Zosimus, New History 5.06

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.


[5.6.1] It is, therefore, worthy of the pains to describe the cause to which the city owed its preservation; it being divine and supernatural, and calculated to excite devotion in all who hear it. When Alaric advanced with all his forces against the city, he saw Athena, its tutelar goddess, walking along the wall, in the same form in which she is represented among the statues of the gods, which is in armor ready to attack those who oppose her. Before the walls he saw Achilles standing in an heroic posture, such as that in which Homer represents him engaging the Trojans so furiously in revenge for the death of Patroclus. 

[5.6.2] Alaric, being struck with awe by this sight, desisted from his attempt on the city, and sent heralds with proposals for peace. These being accepted, and oaths mutually exchanged, Alaric entered Athens with a small number of troops. He was there entertained with all possible civility and treated with great hospitality; after which he received some presents, and departed, leaving the city and all Attica uninjured. 

[5.6.3] Thus Athens, which was the only place that was preserved from the earthquake which happened under the reign of Valens and shook the whole of Greece, as I mentioned in the preceding book, escaped also from this extreme danger.

[5.6.4] Alaric, therefore, through the dread of the apparitions he had seen, left all Attica uninjured, and proceeded to Megaris, which he took at the first attempt. From hence, meeting with no resistance, he proceeded towards the Peloponnese. 

[5.6.5] Gerontius thus allowed him to pass over the isthmus, beyond which all the towns, being unfortified and confiding in the security which they derived from the isthmus, were capable of being taken without the trouble of fighting. For this reason Corinth was first assaulted and immediately taken, with the small towns in its neighborhood, and aflerwards Argos, with all the places between that and Lacedaemon.

[5.6.6] Even Sparta shared in the common captivity of Greece, being no longer fortified with warlike defenders, but through the avarice of the Romans exposed to treacherous magistrates, who readily assented to the corrupt inclinations of their governor in all that was conducive to public ruin.