Zosimus, New History 4.14

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.


[4.14.1] After this happened another singular occurrence. Fortunatianus, the treasurer of the emperor, had ordered stripes to be inflicted on a soldier for sorcery. The man being put to the torture, and compelled to accuse others who were his accomplices, the cause was removed before Modestus, the prefect of the court, because some persons were implicated who were not subject to the jurisdiction of the former officer. 

[4.14.2] The emperor was extremely incensed, and suspected all the most celebrated philosophers, and other persons who had acquired learning, as likewise some of the most distinguished courtiers, who were charged with a conspiracy against their sovereign. This filled every place with lamentation; 

[4.14.3] the prisons being full of persons who did not merit such treatment, and the roads being more crowded than the cities. The guards, who were appointed to the care of the prisons, in which these innocent persons were confined, declared themselves incapable of securing those who were under their charge, and were apprehensive that they would on some occasion escape by force, the number being so great. The informers in this affair were subject to no danger, being only compelled to accuse other persons. 

[4.14.4] All that they accused were either put to death without legal proof, or fined by being deprived of their estates; their wives, children, and other dependants being reduced to extreme necessity. The design of these nefarious accusations was to raise a great sum of money for the treasury.