Zosimus, New History 5.23

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.


[5.23.1] ...<lacuna> apprehended that they would be treated with severity. Meeting, however, with him, they landed in Epirus, where consulting their own security, being in great danger through their extraordinary offence, they gave their prisoners an opportunity to escape; although it is said by some, that they were bribed by them to set them at liberty. 

[5.23.2] However they might escape, they most unexpectedly returned to Constantinople, where they appeared before the emperor, the Senate, and the people. From this time, the hatred which the empress had conceived against John, who was a Christian bishop, was greatly increased. Although she had formerly been incensed against him, for having been severe upon her in his public homilies before the people, yet at this period, when he and the other two had returned, she became openly his enemy.

[5.23.3] In order, therefore, to satisfy her resentment, she used great efforts to induce the bishops of every place to consent to the removal of John. The first and chief of these was Theophilus, the bishop of Alexandria in Egypt, who was the first who had opposed the ancient sacred rites and observances. Although a synod was proposed to be held for this purpose, John, finding that equity was little attended to, left Constantinople of his own accord.

[5.23.4] This giving offence to the people, to whom he had always shewn kindness, a tumult was excited in the city. The Christian church was then filled with those men whom they call monks. These are persons who abstain from lawful marriage and who fill large colleges, in many cities and villages, with unmarried men, incapable of war or of any other service to the commonwealth. These men, by their arts, have from that to the present time acquired possession of extensive lands, and under the pretext of charity to the poor, have reduced (I might almost say) all other men to beggary.

[5.23.5] These monks having now entered the churches, prevented the people from coming to their usual devotion. This so enraged the populace and the soldiers, that they attempted to suppress, and as it were to lop off, the luxuriant insolence of the monks. The signal being given them for this purpose, they made a fierce attack, and without trial or examination put all the monks to the sword, until they had filled the churches with dead bodies, and pursuing those who fled, wounded every one whom they met in black clothes.

[5.23.6] Among these many were killed through mistake, who were either in mourning, or wore such a dress from any other cause. John, having returned again, attempted a repetition of the same measures, and excited similar commotions in the city.