Zosimus, New History 4.33

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.


[4.33.1] Such was the state of Macedonia and Thessaly, while at the same time the emperor Theodosius made his entrance into Constantinople with great pomp, as if in triumph for some important victory, without regarding the public calamities, but proportioning the magnitude of his luxury to that of the city. Gratian, who was much disturbed by the intelligence, sent a sufficient force under the command of Baudo, accompanied by Arbogast.

[4.33.2] Both of these were Franks, but strongly attached to the Romans, free from corruption or avarice, and prudent as well as brave soldiers. When they arrived with the army in Macedonia and Thessaly, the Scythians who were there pillaging all before them, on perceiving the resolution of these commanders, immediately retired into Thrace, which they had previously plundered. Being in doubt how to act, they made use of the same stratagem as before, and endeavored to delude Theodosius with the same device. 

[4.33.3] They sent to him fugitives of the lowest rank to promise him the utmost fidelity and obedience, whom he believed and entertained. Lest his former experience should render him sensible of his own interest, these were followed by many more, whom he received in a similar manner, until, through the folly of the emperor, the fugitives had again gained great influence.

[4.33.4] His folly was daily augmented by his voluptuous course of life; for whatever contributes to the relaxation of morals received in his reign such encouragement that every person who affected to imitate the emperor placed all human happiness in such pursuits. He encouraged mimics, and dancers, and that dissolute and lascivious music, which was in use during his reign and subsequently, and all that could conduce to obscenity, to such a degree, that the empire was totally ruined by those who imitated that species of madness. Add to this, that the temples of the gods were every where violated, nor was it safe for any one to profess a belief that there are any gods, much less to look up to heaven and to adore them.