Zosimus, New History 5.20

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.


[5.20.1] While he was hesitating on these measures, the emperor and the Senate unanimously appointed Fravitta commander in the war against Gainas. He, though, a barbarian by birth, was yet a Grecian in every other respect, not only in his manner of living, but in his disposition and his religion. They therefore committed the management of the army to him, who had been a celebrated leader in many wars, and had delivered all the east, from Cilicia to Phoenicia and Palestine, from the depredations of robbers.

[5.20.2] When he had received the command, he marched against Gainas, and obstructed the passage of the barbarians into Asia across the Hellespont. While Gainas was making preparation to engage, Fravitta, unwilling that his men should be inactive, kept them in continual exercise. By this he so disposed them for service, that instead of being as formerty indolent and inactive, they were discontented that Gainas so long delayed the war.

[5.20.3] Thus was Fravitta occupied in Asia, inspecting not only his camp both day and night, but also the motions of the enemy. He likewise made provision for naval affairs, possessing a fleet, competent for action, of the ships called liburnae, from Liburnia, a town in Italy,note where ships of that kind were first built.

[5.20.4] These appear to have been as swift-sailing vessels as those of fifty oars, although much inferior to the triremes. Polybius, the historian, gives us a description of the proportion of the six-oared ships, which the Romans and Carthaginians used in their engagements with each other.