Zosimus, New History 3.18

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.


[3.18.1] The emperor resolving to take this city, he encouraged his soldiers to the attempt. They obeyed his orders with great alacrity. On this the citizens solicited the emperor to receive them into his favor and protection; requesting at one time that he would send Hormisdas to treat with them of peace, and presently reviling the same person as a fugitive renegade and a traitor to his country. The emperor, with good reason, being incensed at this, commanded his troops to attend to their duty, and to carry on the siege with full vigor. 

[3.18.2] None of them failed in the execution of their duty, until the besieged, finding themselves unable to defend their walls, fled into the citadel. The emperor, on seeing this, sent his troops into the city, which was now deserted of inhabitants. They destroyed the walls, burnt the houses, and planted engines at the most convenient places, with which they threw darts and stones on those in the fort. The besieged kept the assailants at a distance with darts and stones, which they threw back against them, so that great slaughter was occasioned on both sides. The emperor, either by his own ingenuity,on consideration of the situation of the place, or by means of his extensive experience, constructed an engine of the following description: 

[3.18.3] He fastened together great pieces of timber with iron, in form of a square tower. This he placed against the wall of the citadel, till it gradually became of equal height. In this tower he placed archers and engineers, accustomed to fling darts and stones. The Persians being thus harrassed on all sides, both by the besiegers and by those in the tower, were compelled, after a short resistance, to promise that, if the emperor would offer them any reasonable terms, they would surrender the citadel.

[3.18.4] It was therefore agreed that, upon surrendering the citadel to the emperor, all the Persians in the place should pass without molestation through the midst of the Roman army, and should each receive a sum of money and a garment. About five thousand men were suffered to depart, besides those who had escaped in boats over the river.

[3.18.5] The soldiers, upon searching the citadel, discovered a vast quantity of corn, arms and military engines of all kinds, and household furniture and provisions in abundance. Of all these they disposed as they chose, except that the greater part of the corn was put on board ships for the maintenance of the soldiers, the remainder being divided between them in addition to their usual allowance. 

[3.18.6] The weapons that were calculated for the use of Romans were distributed to the soldiers. Those that were adapted only to the Persian manner of fighting were either burnt or thrown into the river.

[3.18.7] By this action the renown of the Romans was considerably augmented; so great a city, being next to Ctesiphon the most important in Assyria, and so strongly fortified, being taken by assault in two days. For this reason the emperor highly commended the soldiers, and treated them with great kindness, distributing to each man a hundred pieces of silver.