Zosimus, New History 4.35

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.


[4.35.1] Thus did Theodosius appear to repair their losses. Meanwhile Promotus, who was commander of the forces in Thrace, encountered with Aedotheus, who had levied an immense army, not only among the nations upon the Ister, but among others situated in unknown countries at a great distance, which he was then leading across the river. Promotus here made such havoc among the troops, that the river was filled with dead bodies, and the number which fell on the shore was almost too great to be counted.

[4.35.2] While the affairs of Thrace were, thus situated, those of Gratian were in great perplexity. Having accepted the counsel of those courtiers who usually corrupt the manners of princes, he gave a reception to some fugitives called Alani, whom he not only introduced into his army, but honored with valuable presents, and confided to them his most important secrets, esteeming his own soldiers of little value. 

[4.35.3] This produced among his soldiers a violent hatred against him, which being gradually inflamed and augmented incited in them a disposition for innovation, and most particulary in that part of them which was in Britain, since they were the most resolute and vindictive. In this spirit they were encouraged by Maximus, a Spaniard, who had been the fellow-soldier of Theodosius in Britain.

[4.35.4] He was offended that Theodosius should be thought worthy of being made emperor, while he himself had no honorable employment. He therefore cherished the animosity of the soldiers towards the emperor. They were thus easily induced to revolt and to declare Maximus emperor. Having presented to him the purple robe and the diadem, they sailed to the mouth of the Rhine. As the German army, and all who were in that quarter approved of the election, Gratian prepared to contend against Maximus, with a considerable part of the army which still adhered to him.

[4.35.5] When the armies met, there were only slight skirmishes for five days; until Gratian, perceiving that the Mauritanian cavalry first deserted from him and declared Maximus Augustus, and afterwards that the remainder of his troops by degrees espoused the cause of his antagonist, relinquished all hope, and fled with three hundred horse to the Alps.

[4.35.6] Finding those regions without defence, he proceeded towards Raetia, Noricum, Pannonia, and the Upper Moesia. When Maximus was informed of his route, he was not negligent of the opportunity, but detached Andragathius, commander of the cavalry, who was his faithful adherent, in pursuit of Gratian. This officer followed him with so great speed, that he overtook him when he was passing the bridge at Sigidunus, and put him to death. By which exploit he confirmed the authority of Maximus.