Zosimus, New History 4.39

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.


[4.39.1] Promotus having been previously informed of all their arrangements, was fully prepared against their designs. He therefore ranged his ships in a triple line close together along the side of the river, the length of twenty stadia. By this plan he not only prevented the enemy from crossing over, but sunk many of them in their vessels. The night being dark and without a moon, the barbarians were unacquainted with the preparations which the Romans had made, and therefore embarked with great silence, supposing the Romans to be ignorant of their design.

[4.39.2] When the signal was made, the Romans sailed up to them in large and strong ships with firm oars, and sunk all that they met, among which not one man was saved by swimming, their arms being very heavy.

[4.39.3] The vessels which escaped from the Roman ships, upon approaching those which lay along shore, were so assaulted with whatever was at hand, that they and all on board were lost at the same time, nor were any of them able to pass this wall of Roman vessels. This produced among them an immense slaughter, greater than had ever occurred in any former naval action. Thus the river was filled with dead bodies and with arms. As many of them or were able to swim to the bank were destroyed by those who were ranged along it.

[4.39.4] The engagment being ended, the soldiers began to plunder. They carried away all the women and children, and acquired possession of all the provisions. Promotus then sent for Theodosius, who was not far from thence, to witness his brave exploit.

[4.39.5] When he beheld the number of prisoners, and the quantity of spoil, he gave the captives their liberty, and by bestowing gifts upon them, endeavored to attach them to himself, supposing that they would be of service to him in a war against Maximus. Another occurrence which happened at that period is worthy of being related.