Zosimus, New History 4.16

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.


[4.16.1] Valentinian, thinking he had sufficiently secured himself from a German war, acted towards his subjects with great severity, exacting from them exorbitant tributes, such as they had never before paid; under pretence that the military expenditure compelled him to have recourse to the public.

[4.16.2] Having thus acquired universal hatred, he became still more severe; nor would he enquire into the conduct of the magistrates, but was envious of all whe had the reputation of leading a blameless life. In plain terms, he was now a person completely different from what he had appeared at the commencement of his reign.

[4.16.3] For this cause, the Africans, who could not endure the excessive avarice of the person who held the military command in Mauritania, gave the purple robe to Firmus, and proclaimed him emperor. This doubtless gave much uneasiness to Valentinian, who immediately commanded some legions from the stations in Pannonia and Moesia, to embark for Africa. 

[4.16.4] On this the Sarmatians and the Quadi, who had long entertained a hatred for Celestius, the governor of those countries, availing themselves, of the opportunity afforded by the departure of the legions for Africa, invaded Pannonia and Moesia. Celestius had infringed an oath, and had not only treacherously deceived, but had murdered their chief at a banquet. The barbarians therefore revenged themselves by plundering all the country along the Ister, carrying off all that they found in the towns.

[4.16.5] The Pannonians were by these means exposed to the cruelty of the barbarians, while the soldiers were extremely negligent in the defence of their towns, and committed as much mischief as the barbarians themselves in all places on this side of the river. 

[4.16.6] But Moesia was free from harm, because Theodosius, who commanded the forces there, courageously resisted the barbarians, and routed them when they attacked him. By that victory he not only acquired great renown, but subsequently attained the imperial dignity.