Battle of Emesa

Coordinates: 34°43′N 36°43′E / 34.72°N 36.71°E / 34.72; 36.71

Battle of Emesa
Part of the Palmyrene War
LocationEmesa (now called Homs, in modern Syria)
Result Roman victory
Roman Empire Palmyrene Empire
Commanders and leaders
Aurelian Zenobia
According to Zosimus: 180,000 total army; perhaps 65,000 engaged, with 5,000 being cavalry 70,000
Casualties and losses
Unknown, but probably light Heavy

The Battle of Emesa was fought in 272 between Roman and Palmyran forces. The Romans were led by Emperor Aurelian, while the Palmyrans were led by Queen Zenobia and her general Zabdas.


Aurelian had started a campaign to reconquer the secessionist Palmyrene Empire, led by Vaballathus and his mother Queen Zenobia. He had come to the East willing to show his mercy to the Roman peoples of the area, and had defeated Zenobia at the Battle of Immae, near Antioch. Zenobia and her general Zabdas fled to Emesa.

The Battle

Roman and Palmyrene forces clashed in the plain in front of the city. As at Immae, the Palmyrene heavy cavalry (the clibanarii) was superior to the Roman equivalent. However, the clibanarii dispersed in the pursuit of the Roman cavalry, and were massacred by the Roman infantry. According to Zosimus, the Judean units, with their clubs, slaughtered the armoured Palmyrene horsemen.


Zenobia retreated into Emesa, but later escaped to Palmyra, having failed to recover the treasure from Emesa. While Aurelian attacked and conquered Palmyra, Zenobia fled to Persia, but was captured when she had reached the Euphrates. Aurelian showed her mercy, and Zenobia was not executed.


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