Zosimus, New History 5.01

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.


[5.1.1] The whole empire being vested in Arcadius and Honorius, they indeed appeared by their title to possess the sovereign authority, although the universal administration of affairs was under Rufinus in the east, and under Stilico in the west. By these all causes were determined, at their own pleasure; for whoever bribed plentifully, or by any other means of friendship or consanguinity could make the judge his advocate, was sure to succeed in the process.

[5.1.2] From hence it happened that most of those great estates, which cause the possessors to be generally esteemed fortunate, devolved to these two; since some endeavoured by gifts to avoid false accusations, and others relinquished all their possessions to obtain an office, or in any other manner to purchase the ruin of particular cities.

[5.1.3] While iniquity of every kind presided, therefore, in the respective cities, the money from all quarters flowed into the coffers of Rufinus and Stilico; while on the reverse, poverty preyed on the habitations of those who had formerly been rich. Nor were the emperors acquainted with anything that was done, but thought all that Rufinus and Stilico commanded was done by virtue of some unwritten law.

[5.1.4] After they had amassed immense wealth, Rufinus began to concert the means of becoming emperor, by making his own daughter, who was now marriageable, the wife of the emperor; for by that he conceived he should possess a plausible argument in favor of his pretensions to government.

[5.1.5] With this intent he privately intimated the affair by means of some of the emperor's attendants, supposing that no one perceived his aim, although the report of it was circulated through the whole city. For all persons conjectured his intention by his pride and arrogance, which increased so much every day, that the general hatred against him was augmented. Notwithstanding this, as if he proposed to disguise small faults with greater enormities, he had the audacity to be guilty of another atrocity.