Lady Hester Stanhope in the desert
Palmyra… I was just reading the excellent recent biography of Lady Hester Stanhope,by Kirsten Ellis, “Star of the Morning.” Hester was a highly original 18th century traveller, and had a passionate desire to to see the mythic ruins of Palmyra…
“At last they reached the high pass overlooking Palmyra. To finally see the remains of this sprawling, once-legendary city with its magnificent ruins of temples, wide, colonnaded streets and triumphal arches gave Hester the sense that she had achieved something wonderful. It spread about before her, like a mirage. The ruins spanned three miles and the eye was caught by half-collapsed mansions, peristyles, sunken baths, a giant agora. In her mind’s eye, Hester tried to resurrect it, imagining a city of unsurpassed luxury and opulence, its olive-skinned people wearing silks from India and China, anointing themselves with the finest oils from Mesopotamia: graceful warriors, with a queen as majestic as their capital: Queen Zenobia.
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