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14.2 A mulher na Historia Augusta: o extraordinário caso de Zenóbia

Maria José Ferreira Lopes
Universidade Católica Portuguesa – Braga
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Within the set of biographies of the Historia Augusta, permeated by a double tendency, sensationalist and unsympathetic towards feminine personalities, in line with the Roman tradition, Queen Zenobia’s biography stands out, and deserves further attention in the tales of the other emperors of her time. An oriental woman with masculine habits, such as big game and war, both her physical and psychological traits are subjected to an unusual and quite sympathetic attention. If the rerum scriptor openly assumes his intention of staining the future reputation of Gallienus, that most misunderstood and hated of emperors in the senatorial circles, even further by highlighting Zenobia’s leadership qualities, it also seems clear that her virtues set her apart from the clichés pejoratively given to the oriental monarchs and women, and set her closer to the traits that are traditionally associated to the Roman matronae (pudicitia) and even to the plutarchian woman. More than that, according to the emperor Aurelian, Zenobia shares the virtues typical of a Roman statesman (grauitas).


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