Zosimus, New History 3.04

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.


[3.4.1] After these events he raised a great army to make war on the whole German nation; he was opposed however by the barbarians in vast numbers. Caesar therefore would not wait while they came up to him, but crossed the Rhine; preferring that their country should be the seat of war, and not that of the Romans: as by that means the cities would escape being again pillaged by the barbarians.

[3.4.2] A most furious battle therefore took place; a great number of the barbarians being slain on the field of battle, while the rest fled, and were pursued by Caesar into the Hercynian Forest, and many of them killed. Vadomarius the son of their general was made prisoner. The army returned home, singing songs of triumph, and praises to Caesar for the exploits he had performed. 

[3.4.3] Julian sent Vadomarius to Constantius, ascribing the victories he had gained to the good fortune of the emperor. Meantime the barbarians, who were in a very dangerous situation, fearing for their wives and children, lest Caesar should advance to places where they resided, and totally destroy their whole race, sent ambassadors to sue for an accomodation, by which they would bind themselves never to make war on the Romans again.

[3.4.4] Caesar told them, that he would listen to no proposals for peace, until they restored the captives whom they had formerly taken in the various towns they had conquered. As they consented to this, and promised to deliver all that remained alive, Caesar used the following method of ascertaining that no single captive was detained by the barbarians. 

[3.4.5] He sent for all that had fled out of each city and village, and required them to give him the names of the persons who had been carried off by the enemy from each of such city or village. Each of them having named the persons whom they knew, either from relationship, friendship, neighborhood, or some other ground, he ordered the imperial notaries to take a list of them; which they did so privately, that the ambassadors knew nothing of it. Upon this, he crossed the Rhine, and commanded them to bring back the captives, which they in a short time obeyed. 

[3.4.6] As they declared that those were all they had taken, Caesar, who was seated upon a high throne, behind which the notaries were placed, ordered the barbarians to produce their captives, according to their agreement. When the captives came singly before him and told their names, the notaries, who stood close behind Caesar, examined their papers to find if they were all correct. Afterwards comparing those which they had taken down with what had appeared before Caesar, and perceiving that the inhabitants of the different places had named many more than were present, they communicated it to Caesar. 

[3.4.7] On which he threatened the ambassadors with a war against their countrymen, for not delivering all the captives, and by the information of the notaries named some individuals of particular places that were yet missing. The barbarians, on hearing this, presently imagined that Caesar had the most abstruse secrets of nature revealed to him by some divine intelligence, and therefore promised to give up all that they found alive, and bound their promise with the customary oath of their country.