Zosimus, New History 4.22

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.


[4.22.1] The emperor Valens, perceiving that the Scythians were pillaging Thrace, resolved to send the troops who had accompanied him from the east, and who were expert horsemen, to make the first charge on the Scythian horse.

[4.22.2] These having therefore received orders from the emperor, left Constantinople in small detachments, and killing the straggling Scythians with their spears, brought many of their heads into the city every day. As the fleetness of their horses, and the force of their spears, caused the Scythians to suppose it difficult to overcome these Saracens, they attempted to circumvent them by stratagem. 

[4.22.3] They planted in several places ambuscades of three Scythians to one Saracen; but their design was rendered abortive, as the Saracens by means of the swiftness of their horses could easily escape whenever they perceived any considerable number approaching. The Saracens with their spears committed such ravage among the Scythians, that at length despairing of success, they preferred passing the Ister and surrendering themselves to the Huns, than being destroyed by the Saracens. When they had retired from all the places near Constantinople, the emperor had room to draw out his army.

[4.22.4] He was now hesitating how to manage the war, so great a multitude of barbarians being at hand, and was tormented by the ill conduct of his own officers. He was notwithstanding afraid of discharging them under such turbulent circumstances, and was likewise doubtful whom to appoint in their place, since no one appeared who was capable of such employments. At this juncture, Sebastianus arrived at Constantinople from the west, although the emperors there, by reason of their youth, were unacquainted with affairs, and attended to little beside the calumnies of the eunuchs who waited on them.