Zosimus, New History 2.27

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.


[2.27.1] At this time a Persian named Hormisdas, of the royal family, came over to Constantine for refuge, under these circumstances. His father had been king of Persia. He was once celebrating his own birthday after the Persian manner, when Hormisdas entered the palace, bringing with him a large quantity of venison. But as the guests at the table did not rise and pay him the respect and honor due to him, he became enraged, and told them he would punish them with the death of Marsyas.

[2.27.2] This saying most of them did not understand, because it related to a foreign story, but one of them, who had lived in Phrygia, and had heard the story of Marsyas, explained to them the meaning of Hormisdas's menace, while they sat at table. It was therefore so treasured up in their recollection, that when his father died, they remembered his threat, and chose his younger brother king, though according to law the elder should be preferred above the other children. Not contented with that, they put Hormisdas in chains, and confined him on a hill which lies before their city. 

[2.27.3] But after some time had elapsed, his wife effected his escape in this manner. She procured a large fish, and put a file in its belly and, sewing it up again, delivered it to the most trusty of her eunuchs, charging him to tell Hormisdas, that he must eat the fish when no one was present, and use what he should find in its belly for his escape. When she had formed this contrivance, she sent several dromedaries loaded with wine, and abundance of meat, to entertain her husband's keepers.

[2.27.4] While they were enjoying the feast she gave them, Hormisdas cut open the fish and found the file; having with that filed off the shackles from his legs, he put on the robe of the eunuch, and passed through the midst of his keepers, who were by that time perfectly intoxicated. Taking one of the eunuchs along with him, he fled to the king of Armenia, who was his particular friend. By these means he got safe to Constantine, who shewed him all possible kindness and respect.