Zosimus, New History 4.44

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.


[4.44.1] Though Theodosius was highly incensed at these actions, yet his natural effeminacy, and the negligent habits of his former life, rendered him unwilling to undertake a war. He therefore pointed out to them the inconveniences which unavoidably arise from civil discord, and that the commonwealth must of necessity receive fatal wounds from both parties. He therefore stated that it would be better first to send an embassy, and that if Maximus would surrender the empire to Valentinian and remain at peace, the empire should be divided between them all as before, but if he should yield to his ambition, they would immediately commence a war against him. 

[4.44.2] No person in the Senate dared to speak in opposition to this, because it appeared to be calculated for the public advantage. Meanwhile Justina, who was a person of great experience, and knew the best manner of conducting her affairs, understanding that Theodosius was naturally inclined to love, introduced into his presence her daughter Galla, who was extremely beautiful. Then embracing the knees of the emperor, she supplicated with great humility that he would neither suffer the death of Gratian to pass unrevenged, to whom he owed the empire, nor them to remain neglected and destitute of every hope. 

[4.44.3] As she spoke these words she showed him her daughter, who was in tears, lamenting her misfortunes. When Theodosius had listened to this supplication, and had observed the beauty of Galla, his eyes discovered the wound she had inflicted on his heart. Yet he deferred that affair to a future occasion, and in the mean time gave them favorable hopes. Becoming daily more inflamed with love for Galla, he requested Justina to grant him her daughter, since his former wife Flacilla was dead.

[4.44.4] To this demand she replied, that she would by no means accede to it, unless he would make war on Maximus to avenge the death of Gratian. Resolving, therefore, to obtain her consent, he exerted himself in preparing for war. Being thus incited by his passion for Galla, he not only conciliated the soldiers by augmenting their stipend, but was roused from his negligence in other affairs, resolving, since he was compelled by necessity, to provide for affairs that would require attention after his departure.