Zosimus, New History 3.20

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.


[3.20.1] Departing from thence, with the same pains as before, he went before his men, thus rendering the way more tolerable to them. By this means he led them along, until he came to a grove of palm-trees, amongst which vines were growing. These climbed to the tops of the palms, thus exhibiting to their view the fruit of the palm mixed with clusters of grapes. Having passed the night in this place, the next morning he continued his route.

[3.20.2]  Approaching too near to a castle, he was in danger of receiving a mortal wound from a Persian, who issuing from the castle with his sword in his hand, aimed a stroke at the emperor's head. Observing this, he placed his shield on his head and warded off the blow.

[3.20.3] The soldiers immediately fell on the Persian, and killed him with all his companions, except a few who escaped through the enemy's ranks into the castle. The emperor being enraged at this audacious attempt, walked round the castle to examine whether it were in any part assailable. 

[3.20.4] While he was thus employed, Surena attacked the soldiers, who remained in the palm-grove, before they knew of his approach, hoping by that means not only to get possession of all their beasts of burden and carriages, but to divert the emperor from the siege of the castle. He was disappointed in both parts of his project. For the emperor thought the capture of the castle an important object, 

[3.20.5] because there was near it a populous city called Besuchis; besides many other castles, the inhabitants of which had fled into that which the emperor was besieging, their own not being strong enough to protect them; except some who fled to Ctesiphon, or hid themselves in the thickest part of the grove.

[3.20.6] For this reason the emperor besieged it, while in the mean time that part of the army, which was sent out to reconnoitre and scour the country, defeated all who opposed them, and rendered the emperor secure during the continuance of the siege. Some of the fugitives having taken refuge among the fens in the grove, did not escape the reconnoitring parties, who killed some and made the rest prisoners.