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Zenobia of Armenia (Georgian: ზენობია, Armenian: Զենոբիա; fl. 1st century) was a royal Iberian princess of the Pharnavazid dynasty who was a Queen of Armenia from 51 to 53 and 54 to 55 during the reign of her husband, King Rhadamistus.[1]

Zenobia of Armenia
Zenobie retrouvee par les bergers sur les bords crop 1.jpg
Queen of Armenia
BornMtskheta, Kingdom of Iberia
Died1st century
Kingdom of Armenia
Issueunknown son
DynastyPharnavazid dynasty
FatherMithridates of Armenia
Motherdaughter of Pharasmanes I
sister of Rhadamistus


Zenobia was a daughter of King Mithridates of Armenia by his wife, who was also his sister; their father was King Pharasmanes I of Iberia. At the same time, she was a wife of Rhadamistus, another son of Pharasmanes.[2] (Therefore, she married her uncle, who was also brother to her mother and father.)

Zenobia's father Mithridates reigned in Armenia until her husband (her father Mithridates' brother, and son-in-law) Rhadamistus usurped the Armenian throne by sudden invasion. Her husband destroyed their entire family. Rhadamistus killed both of Zenobia's parents: her mother being Rhadamistus' sister, and her father Mithridates, was Rhadamistus' brother. Zenobia's brothers were also killed by Rhadamistus just because they were crying over their parents' death.

After execution of her entire family, Rhadamistus became king in 51, and she became his queen. Armenians revolted soon after, and with the Parthian support of prince Tiridates I, forced Rhadamistus and Zenobia to flee back to Iberia.

According to Tacitus:[3]

Rhadamistus had no means of escape but for the swiftness of the horses which bore him and his wife away. Pregnant as she was, she endured, somehow or other, likely out of fear of the enemy and love of her husband, the first part of the flight, but after a while, when she felt herself shaken by its continuous speed, she implored to be rescued by an honourable death from the shame of captivity. He at first embraced, cheered, and encouraged her, now admiring her heroism, now filled with a sickening apprehension at the idea of her being left to any man's mercy. Finally, urged by the intensity of his love and familiarity with dreadful deeds, he unsheathed his scymitar, and having stabbed her, dragged her to the bank of the Araxes and committed her to the stream, so that her very body might be swept away. Then in headlong flight he hurried to Iberia, his ancestral kingdom. Zenobia meanwhile (this was her name), as she yet breathed and showed signs of life on the calm water at the river's edge, was perceived by some shepherds, who inferring from her noble appearance that she was no base-born woman, bound up her wound and applied to it their rustic remedies. As soon as they knew her name and her adventure, they conveyed her to the city of Artaxata, whence she was conducted at the public charge to Tiridates, who received her kindly and treated her as a royal person.

Zenobia is said to have given birth to an unknown son from Rhadamistus in Armenia. Her and her child's later life is unknown. Her husband returning home to Iberia was soon, in 58, put to death as traitor by his own father Pharasmanes.[4] According to the historian Leo, Zenobia lived in Tiridates’ court until her death.[5]

In artEdit







  1. ^ Toumanoff, p. 14
  2. ^ Javakhishvili, p. 159
  3. ^ Tacitus, XII, 51
  4. ^ Tacitus, XIII, 37
  5. ^ Khachatrian, p. 46
  6. ^ Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Baudry, Paul Jacques Aimé". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  7. ^ Wissman, Fronia E. (1996). Bouguereau. San Francisco: Pomegranate Artbooks. p. 12. ISBN 978-0876545829.