Zosimus, New History 4.09

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.


[4.9.1] While such was the posture of affairs in that part of the empire which was attached to Valens, the emperor Valentinian, who resided beyond the Alps, was attacked by a great and unexpected danger. The Germans, recollecting their sufferings under the administration of Julian, as soon as they heard of his death, shook off all fear, and resuming their natural audacity, invaded the nations subject to the Roman Empire. 

[4.9.2] Being met by the emperor, a severe battle ensued, in which the barbarians were victorious. The Roman army dishonorably fled. Valentinian, however, resolved not to save himself by flight; he therefore bore the event of the battle with apparent composure, until he had discovered those, who by their first beginning to fly had caused the disaster. 

[4.9.3] Having at length by strict inquiry ascertained that the Batavian unit was guilty, he ordered the whole army to assemble in complete martial habiliments, as if to hear an oration for their information in some important affair. He then addressed them, reflecting the strongest ignominy on those who commenced the flight, and commanded the Batavians to be stripped of their arms, and to be sold to a colony as fugitive slaves. 

[4.9.4] Upon this they all prostrated themselves on the ground, and intreated him not to inflict so disgraceful a punishment on his soldiers, promising in future to behave like men and worthy of the Roman name. He complied with their intreaties, requiring them to prove by their actions the sincerity of their intention. They then rose from the ground, armed themselves, and renewed the combat with such alacrity and resolution, that of an immense number of barbarians very few returned to their own country. Thus terminated the war with the Germans.