Zosimus, New History 1.58

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.


[1.58.1] Another story was likewise much circulated of the Palmyrenes. Between Heliopolis and Bilbis is a place called Aphaca, where is a temple dedicated to Venus Aphacitis, and near it a pond resembling an artificial cistern. Here is frequently seen, near the temple and in the adjacent places, a fire in the air, resembling a lamp, of a round figure, which has appeared even in our time, as often as people have assembled there on particular days.

[1.58.2]  Whoever resorted hither, brought to the pond some offering for the goddess, either in gold, silver, linen, silk, or any thing of like value. If she accepted it, the cloth sunk to the bottom, like substances of greater weight; but if rejected, they would float on the water; and not only cloth and such substances, but even gold, silver, or any other of those materials which usually sink. 

[1.58.3] For an experiment of this miracle, the Palmyrenes, in the year before their overthrow, assembled on a festival, and threw into the pond several presents of gold, silver and cloth, in honor of the goddess, all of which sunk to the bottom. In the following year, at the same festival, they were all seen floating on the surface; by which the goddess foretold what would happen.

[1.58.4] In this manner was the regard of heaven shown to the Romans, as long as they kept up their sacred rites. But it is my lot to speak of these times, wherein the Roman empire degenerated to a species of barbarity, and fell to decay.