Zosimus, New History 4.30

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.


[4.30.1] Theodosius, observing that the army was considerably diminished, permitted as many of the barbarians beyond the Ister as were willing to enter his own army. Many of them were induced by his promises and were embodied with the legions; conceiving that when more of them should be collected, they might attack the government, and without difficulty acquire possession of the sovereignty.

[4.30.2] The emperor, however, having reviewed these fugitives, who were very numerous, and already exceeded in number the other soldiers, reflected on the difficulty of restraining them, should they be inclined to infringe their promise of obedience. He therefore judged it most prudent to place some of them among the legions that were in Egypt, and to supply their place in his army with a detachment from thence.

[4.30.3] This being effected, the one party coming and the other going according to the command of the emperor, the Egyptians marched through the different towns with great order, and paid for what they received, but the conduct of the barbarians was very turbulent, and they disposed of all in the various markets at their pleasure. 

[4.30.4] When both met in Philadephia, a city of Lydia, the Egyptians were attentive to the orders of their officers, while the barbarians, who exceeded them in number, were regardless of all commands. A tradesman in the market-place demanding money for goods that he had sold to a barbarian, the barbarian drew his sword and wounded him. Upon this the man cried out, and another was then wounded who ran to assist him. The Egyptians, who were grieved at the sight of so evil an action, mildly admonished the barbarians to desist from actions so base and unjust, which were disgraceful to men who lived under the Roman laws.

[4.30.5] Their advice however had no weight with the barbarians, who drew against them also, until at length the Egyptians yielded to resentment, and attacking them, killed more than two hundred, wounded some, and compelled many of them to take refuge in the sewers, where they died. When the Egyptians had thus rendered the barbarians at Philadelphia more orderly, they continued their journey, and the barbarians proceeded towards Egypt. They were commanded by Hormisdas, the son of the Hormisdas, who had attended the emperor Julian in the Persian war.