Zosimus, New History 2.01

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.


[2.1.1] The longest period of the life of man is only equal to the intermediate space between these games.note For an age, or the space of one hundred years, which we call αἰών, is by the Romans called saeculum. This is an excellent remedy for the plague, consumption and other diseases. 

Of its origin receive this account. Valesus Valesius, from whom descended the Valerian family, was a great man among the Sabines, before whose house was a grove of very lofty trees, which were burnt with lightning. He was thus induced to enquire the meaning of such a portent. His children, moreover, falling sick, he consulted both the physicians and the soothsayers. 

[2.1.2] He was told by them that by the manner of the fire falling the gods were angry, which caused Valesius wisely to attempt by sacrifices to appease them. He and his wife being terrified, and expecting every moment the death of their children, prostrated himself before Vesta, and promised to offer up two entire souls instead of their children, which were his own and that of their mother. 

[2.1.3] But turning to the grove that had been burnt, he seemed to hear a voice that commanded him to carry the children to Tarentum, and there to warm some Tiber water over the fire of Pluto and Proserpine, and to give it to the children to drink. On hearing this he despaired the more of the recovery of the children. For Tarentum was at a great distance, and besides there was no Tiber water to be had there: and it caused him to entertain more desponding thoughts of it, that the voice had told him the water must be warmed on the altar of the infernal deities,