Zosimus, New History 5.18

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.


[5.18.1] When the emperor Arcadius heard this, he immediately sent for Eutropius, deprived him of all his dignities, and dismissed him. Upon this he immediately fled for shelter to a Christian church, which had been made a sanctuary by himself. But Gainas being extremely urgent and declaring that Tribigild would never be appeased until Eutropius was removed, they seized him by force, notwithstanding the law for establishing churches as sanctuaries, and sent him to Cyprus under a strict guard. 

[5.18.2] As Gainas still continued very impressively to urge the emperor Arcadius to dispatch him, the emperor's attendants made an equivocating evasion of the oath that was sworn to Eutropius when he was dragged out of the church, and caused him to be sent back out of Cyprus. Then, as if they had only sworn not to put him to death while he was at Cyprus or Constantinople, they sent him to Chalcedon, and there murdered him.

[5.18.3] Fortune thus treated Eutropius in a most singular manner on both hands, first in exalting him to such a height as no eunuch had ever before been raised to, and then in exposing him to death, through the hatred of those who were enemies to the commonwealth.

[5.18.4] Gainas, though now evidently inclined to innovation, yet thought himself still undiscovered. Therefore, being absolutely master of the will of Tribigild, as he was much his superior in power and influence, he assisted him in making peace with the emperor. After they had mutually exchanged oaths, he returned again through Phrygia and Lydia. Tribigild followed him the same way, marching through Lydia so as not to pass by Sardes, the metropolis of that country. 

[5.18.5] When they had formed a junction at Thyatira, Tribigild repented that he had left Sardes unpillaged, since it was easy to take a city like that, destitute of all defence. He, therefore resolved to return there along with Gainas and to attack that city. Their design would certainly have been carried into effect, had not a great quantity of rain fallen, which occasioned a great flood on the land and swelled the rivers so as to render them impassable, by which their journey was obstructed. 

[5.18.6] They then divided the country between them, and Gainas led his forces towards Bithynia, and Tribigild his towards the Hellespont, permitting the barbarians who followed them to pillage all before them. By the time, when the one had arrived at Chalcedon, the other had taken possession of all the places near Lampsacus. Thus Constantinople, and even the whole empire, was in extreme danger. Gainas then desired the. emperor to come to him, being resolved to confer with no one except himself in person. 

[5.18.7] The emperor submitted to this, and they met in a place near Chalcedon, where is a church dedicated to the martyr Euphemia, who is honored for her devotion to Christ. It was there agreed that Gainas and Tribigild should repair from Asia into Europe, and that the most eminent persons in the whole state should be given up to them to be put to death.

[5.18.8] Among these were Aurelianus, who was consul for that year, Saturninus who had been consul, and John, to whom the emperor confided all his secrets, and who was said by many people to be the father of the presumed son of Arcadius.

[5.18.9] This tyrannical and insolent demand was complied with by the emperor. But Gainas, when he had these men in his own hands, was content with their suffering banishment. He afterwards crossed into Thrace, where he commanded Tribigild to follow him, leaving Asia, which was now beginning to recover breath, and had a probability of being delivered from all the dangers that had surrounded it. 

[5.18.10] While he resided at Constantinople, he distributed his soldiers into several quarters, depriving the city even of the court-guards. He gave the barbarians private instructions, when they saw that the soldiers were departed from the city, immediately to attack it, being now destitute of all protection, and to deliver the sole authority into his hands.