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Demonizing Zenobia: The Legend of al-Zabbā' In Islamic Sources

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Chapter Summary

The profile of al-Zabbā preserved by al-Zabbā diverges widely from the profile of the Queen of Palmyra found in non-Islamic sources. The author goal is to expose the meaning of the story that lies immediately below the smooth linguistic surface of the narrative by drawing attention to literary devices that are the stock-in-trade of storytellers around the world: themes, motifs, topoi, linguistic creativity (names, maxims, and proverbs), and rhetorical devices (metaphors, parallels, and inversions). After identifying these literary devices, the author compares the legend of al-Zabbā to legends and stories that manifest these same literary devices-including a curious episode in the career of the Prophet Muhammad. This chapter gives a summary of what is known about the historical Zenobia.

Keywords: al-Zabbā; literary devices; non-Islamic sources; Queen of Palmyra; Zenobia



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