Zosimus, New History 5.05

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.


[5.5.1] When Rufinus understood this, he endeavored by all the art in his power to prevent the expedition of Stilicho into the east, and likewise to disperse and weaken the military force of Arcadius. Indeed, while he was projecting these schemes, he found men for his purpose more wicked than he desired, by whose aid he occasioned great calamities to the Romans. In what manner I am about to relate.

[5.5.2] Musonius, a Greek, had three sons, who were named Musonius, Antiochus, and Axiochus. Of these Musonius and Axiochus endeavored to excel their father, both in learning and integrity. But Antiochus adopted a contrary course, accustoming himself to nothing but wickedness. 

[5.5.3] Rufinus, finding him adapted to his purpose, made him proconsul of Greece, because he wished that the barbarians, when they made inroads, should find but little trouble in laying it waste, and committed the garrison at Thermopylae to the care of Gerontius, who would be serviceable in all his designs against the commonwealth. 

[5.5.4] When Rufinus had concerted these infamous devices, he discovered that Alaric became seditious and disobedient to the laws, for he was displeased that he was not entrusted with the command of some other military forces besides the barbarians, which Theodosius had allotted to him when he assisted in the deposition of the usurper Eugenius. Rufinus, therefore, privately communicated with him, prompting him to lead forth his barbarians, and auxiliaries of any other nation, as he might with ease render himself master of the whole country. 

[5.5.5] Alaric on this marched out of Thrace into Macedonia and Thessaly, committing the greatest devastations on his way. Upon approaching Thermopylae, he privately sent messengers to Antiochus the proconsul, and to Gerontius the governor of the garrison at Thermopylae, to inform them of his approach.

[5.5.6] This news was no sooner communicated to Gerontius than he and the garrison retired and left the barbarians a free passage into Greece. Upon arriving there, they immediately began to pillage the country and to sack all the towns, killing all the men, both young and old, and carrying off the women and children, together with the money.

[5.5.7] In this incursion, all Boeotia, and whatever countries of Greece the barbarians passed through after their entrance at Thermopylae, were so ravaged, that the traces are visible to the present day. Thebes only was excepted, being preserved partly by its own strength, and partly by the impatience of Alaric to proceed to Athens, which prevented him from besieging this city.

[5.5.8] The Thebans having thus escaped, he advanced to Athens, expecting to take that city with ease, since by reason of its magnitude it could not easily be defended; nor being contiguous to the Piraeus could it, hold out long before it would be compelled to surrender. Such was the hope of Alaric. But the antiquity of the city, in the midst of these impious designs, was able to call to its aid the presiding deities by which it was preserved.