Zosimus, New History 3.07

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.


[3.7.1] There was a man of extraordinary stature, and of courage proportioned to his size. Being by nation a barbarian, and accustomed to plunder with the others, he had thought proper to leave his own country and go into Gallia Celtica, which was subject to the Romans.

[3.7.2] While he was residing at Trier, which is the largest city in all the nations beyond the Alps, and saw the barbarians from beyond the Rhine, ravaging the cities on this side of the river, and committing depredations every where without opposition, (which was before Julian was made caesar), he resolved in himself to defend those towns. As he dared not attempt this without being supported by the law, he at first went alone into the thickest part of the woods, and waited there till the barbarians made their incursions. In the night, when they lay intoxicated and asleep, he fell on them and slew them in great numbers, bringing their heads and shewing them to the people of the town.

[3.7.3] This he practised continually to such an extent, that he abated the keenness of the barbarians, who though unable to guess at the cause, yet were sensible of the losses they sustained, the army diminishing daily. Some other robbers having joined this man, and their number having increased to a considerable body, Charietto, (which was the name of the man who first used this kind of ambuscade against the barbarians) came to Caesar, and told him the whole circumstances, which few persons knew before that time. 

[3.7.4] Caesar, was at this time unable to restrain their nocturnal and clandestine incursions of the barbarians, as they robbed in small parties, straggling from each other, and when day appeared, not one of them was visible, all hiding themselves in the woods, and subsisting on what they gained by robbery. Considering therefore the difficulty of subduing such an enemy, he determined to oppose these robbers, not with an army of soldiers, but with men of similar description.

[3.7.5] For this reason, he sent Charietto and his band, adding to them many of the Salii, against the plundering Quadi,note who though they lived on what they stole, yet were probably less expert in the art of robbing, than these men who had studied it. In the day he guarded the open fields, and killed all that escaped his robbers.

[3.7.6] He did this for a long time, until the Quadi were reduced to such extremities, and to so small a number, that they and their general surrendered themselves to Caesar, who had taken a great number of prisoners in the former excursions and engagements, and among the rest the son of their king, who was taken by Charietto. 

[3.7.7] From this cause, when they so lamentably petitioned for peace, and Caesar demanded some of their chiefs as hostages, and required the king's son to be one of them; the general, or king, broke out into a most pathetic complaint, and declared with tears in his eyes that his son was one that had been lost. Caesar perceiving this compassionated his sorrow, and shewed him his son who had been nobly entertained; but told him that he would retain the youth as a hostage as well as other of the chiefs whom he had in possession. He condescended, however, to make peace with them on condition that they would never again take arms against the Romans.