Zosimus, New History 1.57

Zosimus (Greek Ζώσιμος): Early Byzantine, pagan author of a history of the Roman Empire, published in the first quarter of the sixth century CE.

The translation of ZosimusNew History offered here was printed in 1814 by W. Green and T. Chaplin in London, and was probably prepared by J. Davis of the Military Chronicle and Military Classics Office. The translator is anonymous. The text was found at Tertullian.org. The notes were added by Jona Lendering.


[1.57.1] I cannot here omit to mention what happened before the ruin of Palmyra, though I profess only to write a transient history. For as Polybius informs us by what means the Romans in a short space of time attained a vast empire, it is my purpose to show on the other hand, that by their ill management in as short a time they lost it.

[1.57.2] But I am now speaking of the Palmyrenes, who, having as I related, acquired a large portion of the Roman Empire, were warned by several declarations from the gods of the overthrew which they afterwards sustained. For example; at Seleucia in Cilicia there was a temple of Apollo (called there Sarpedonius) and in that temple an oracle. 

[1.57.3] It is reported of this deity, that he used to give to those that were infested with locusts a species of birds, called Seleuciades, which used to hover about his temple, and would send them along with any that desired it; that these birds would fly amongst the locusts, catch them in their mouths, and in a moment destroy a vast number of them, thus delivering the people from the mischief they produced. This I ascribe to the felicity of that age; our own generation has not merited such kindness from heaven.

[1.57.4] The Palmyrenes, having consulted this oracle, to learn if they should ever gain the empire of the east, received this answer,

Accursed race! avoid my sacred fane,
Whose treach'rous deeds the angry gods disdain.

And some persons enquiring there concerning the success of the expedition of Aurelian against the Palmyrenes, the gods told them,

One falcon many doves commands, whose end
On his destructive pounces must depend.