Zosimus, New History 3.11

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.


[3.11.1] When he was at Sirmium, there came to him ambassadors from all Greece, to whom he gave such answers as were worthy of him, and granted all their reasonable demands. He then marched forward with his Celtic forces, and others which he had raised at Sirmium, and the legions that were stationed in Pannonia and Moesia. Arriving at Naisus, he consulted the soothsayers what measures to pursue. As the entrails signified that he must stay there for some time, he obeyed, observing likewise the time that was mentioned in his dream. 

[3.11.2] When this, according to the motion of the planets, was arrived, a party of horsemen arrived from Constantinople at Naisus, with intelligence that Constantius was dead, and that the armies desired Julian to be emperor. Upon this he accepted what the gods had bestowed upon him, and proceeded on his journey. On his arrival at. Byzantium, he was received with joyful acclamations by all ranks of the people, who called him their beloved fellow-citizen, he being born and brought up in that city, and shewed him every kind of respect, as a person who was likely to be the author of much good to mankind.

[3.11.3] He here provided for the advantage both of the city and the army: he conferred on the city the privilege of electing a Senate like that of Rome. He also constructed there a harbor to secure ships from the south wind, and a portico leading to the port. He built a library to the imperial portico, in which he placed all the books he possessed; and having done this, he prepared for the Persian war. After having remained ten months in Byzantium, he appointed Hormisdas and Victor to the command of his armies, and proceeded to Antioch

[3.11.4] It is unnecessary to relate with what pleasure and enthusiasm the soldiers performed this journey, for it is not probable that they would be guilty of any improprieties under such an emperor as Julian. Upon his arrival at Antioch he was joyfully received by the people. But being naturally great lovers of spectacles and public amusements, and more accustomed to pleasure than to serious affairs, they were not pleased with the emperor's general prudence and modesty. He indeed avoided entering the public theatres and would seldom see plays, and when he did, would not sit at them the whole day:

[3.11.5] on which account they spoke disrespectfully of him, and offended him. He revenged himself on them, not by any real punishment, but by composing a very spirited oration, which contains so much satire and keenness, that it will serve as a perpetual lampoon on the Antiochians. Being penitent for their offence, the emperor, after doing for the city all the favors which equity would allow him, granted to it a senate, the members of which succeeded by hereditary descent from father to son, admitting likewise those that were born of the daughters of senators into the same body, a privilege which few cities possess. After these, and many other just and noble actions, he prepared to make war on Persia.