Zosimus, New History 4.13

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.


[4.13.1] The affairs of the west being thus situated, the emperor Valens, as he had previously intended, prepared to march into the east against the Persians. Proceeding slowly forward, he granted every reasonable favor to the cities that sent ambassadors to him, and performed various other good actions. 

[4.13.2] Arriving at Antioch, he made every provision relative to the war with great caution. After residing in the palace there during the winter, he proceeded in the spring to Hierapolis. He led his forces from thence against the Persians, and when winter again approached he returned to Antioch. Thus was the war with the Persians protracted. While the emperor remained at Antioch, an extraordinary circumstance happened. 

[4.13.3] Among the imperial notaries was one named Theodorus, a person of reputation, birth, and education. Being very young he was easily seduced to vice by the delusions of designing profligates. A society of persons of that description persuaded him that they were men of great learning, particularly in the science of divination, by which they were able to foretel future events. In order to ascertain who should succeed Valens in the empire, they fixed up a tripod, which revealed to them in a secret manner what should happen hereafter.

[4.13.4] Now in this tripod appeared the letters θ, ε, ο, δ,note by which was predicted in plain terms that Theodorus would succeed Valens in the empire. He was so involved in these follies, that he was continually anxious for the conversation of jugglers and sorcerers, consulting them of the future. He was therefore accused to the emperor, who punished him as he merited.