Zosimus, New History 3.03

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.


[3.3.1] Constantius having therefore given to Caesar full authority over the nations under his government, marched into the east, to make war on the Persians. Julian finding the military affairs of Gallia Celtica in a very ruinous state, and that the barbarians pased the Rhine without any resistance, even almost as far as the sea-port towns, he took a survey of the remaining parts of the enemy. 

[3.3.2] And understanding that the people of those parts were terrified at the very name of the barbarians, while those whom Constantius had sent along with him, who were not more than three hundred and sixty, knew nothing more, as he used to say, than how to say their prayers, he enlisted as many more as he could and took in a great number of volunteers. He also provided arms, and finding a quantity of old weapons in some town he fitted them up, and distributed them among the soldiers.

[3.3.3] The scouts bringing him intelligence, that an immense number of barbarians had crossed the river near the city of Argentoratum which stands on the Rhine, he no sooner heard of it, than he led forth his army with the greatest speed, and engaging with the enemy gained such a victory as exceeds all description. It is said that sixty thousand men were killed on the spot, besides as many more that were driven into the river and drowned. In a word, if this victory be compared to that of Alexander over Darius, it will be found in no respects inferior to it.

[3.3.4] We ought not however to pass over in silence an action of Caesar after the victory. He possessed a regiment of six hundred horse, which were well disciplined, and in whose valor and experience he so confided, that he ventured great part of his hopes upon their performances. Indeed when the battle commenced, the whole army attacked the enemy with all the resolution they could show; but some time afterwards, though the Roman army had considerably the advantage, these were the only troops that fled, and left their station so dishonorably, that when Caesar rode up to them with a small party, and called them back to a share of the victory, he could not by any means prevail on them to turn.

[3.3.5] On which account he was justly indignant with them, for having as much as related to them betrayed their countrymen to the barbarians. Yet he did not inflict on them the usual and legal punishment. But he dressed them in.women's clothes, and led them through the camp towards another province, thinking that such a punishment would be worse than death to soldiers that were men. Indeed this happened very fortunately both for him and them; for in the second war against the Germans they recollected the ignominy which had previously been imposed upon them,and were almost the only troops who conducted themselves bravely in that engagement.