Zosimus, New History 3.09

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.


[3.9.1] But while Julian was at Parisium, a small town in Germany, the soldiers, being ready to march, continued at supper till midnight in a place near the palace, which they so called there. They were as yet ignorant of any design against Caesar, when some tribunes, who began to suspect the contrivance against him, privately distributed a number of anonymous billets among the soldiers, in which they represented to them, that Caesar, by his judicious conduct had so managed affairs, that almost all of them had erected trophies over the barbarians; that he had always fought like a private soldier, and was now in extreme danger from the emperor, who would shortly deprive him of his whole army, unless they prevented it. 

[3.9.2] Some of the soldiers having read these billets and published the intrigue to the whole army. All were highly enraged. They suddenly rose from their seats in great commotion, and with the cups yet in their hands went to the palace. Breaking open the doors without ceremony, they brought out Caesar, and lifting him on a shield declared him emperor and Augustus. They then, without attending to his reluctance, placed a diadem upon his head. 

[3.9.3] Julian was uneasy at what they had done, yet did not think it safe to reverse it, because Constantius would not observe any oath or covenant, or any obligation by which men are bound to their word. However, he determined to try him. He therefore sent ambassadors to inform Constantius that he had been declared emperor, without his own concurrence, and, if he pleased, was ready to lay aside his diadem, and be contented with the sole dignity of being Caesar. 

[3.9.4] Constantius was so enraged and arrogant, that he told the ambassadors that if Julian loved his life, he must lay aside not only his imperial dignity, but that of a Caesar, and in a private capacity submit himself to the emperor's pleasure. He should, in that case, receive no injury, nor suffer what his audacity merited. Julian, when he was informed of this by the ambassadors, openly showed his opinion of the deity, and declared that he would rather trust his life and fortune with the gods than with Constantius.

[3.9.5] From this time the enmity of Constantius to Julian was openly displayed, for Constantius prepared for a civil war, while Julian at the same time was grieved that such occurrences should happen, because if he fought against him from whom he had received the honor of a caesar, he would by many be esteemed an ungrateful person.

[3.9.6] While he was making these reflections, and revolving in his own mind how he might avoid a civil war, the gods told him what should occur in a dream. Being at Vienna, the Sun appeared to shew him the constellations, and to speak these verses;

When Jupiter th' extremity commands
Of moist Aquarius, and Saturn stands
In Virgo twenty five, th' Imperial state
Of high Constantius shall be closed by fate.

[3.9.7] Relying, therefore, on this vision, he conducted public business with his usual diligence. It being yet winter, he took all possible precautions in what related to the barbarians, that if he should be forced to undertake any new enterprise, Celtica might be secure. At the same time, while Constantius continued in the east, Julian prepared to frustrate his design.