Zosimus, New History 4.21

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.


[4.21.1] Of these extreme dangers the emperor was informed by messengers, who were purposely sent to him. Having then arranged his affairs in Persia in the best possible manner, he hastened from Antioch to Constantinople; and from thence marched into Thrace against the fugitive Scythians. On his route a remarkable spectacle presented itself. 

[4.21.2] The body of a man was lying in the road, perfectly motionless, which appeared as if it had been whipped from head to foot. The eyes were open and gazed on all who approached it. Having enquired of him, who he was, and from whence he came, and who had so severely beat him, and receiving no reply, they concluded it to be a prodigy, and shewed him to the emperor as he passed by. 

[4.21.3] Although he made the same enquiries, it still remained speechless, and though void of motion and apparently dead, yet the eyes appeared as if alive. At length it suddenly disappeared. The spectators were unable to account for the prodigy; but persons who were skilled in such events, said that it portended the future state of the empire: that the commonwealth should appear as if it had been beaten and whipped, until, by the misconduct of its magistrates and ministers, it would expire. If we take all circumstances into consideration, this interpretation will indeed appear just.