Zosimus, New History 5.29

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.


[5.29.1] About the same time, Stilicho was informed that Alaric had left Epirus, and having passed through the defiles that form a passage from Pannonia to Venetia, had pitched his camp at a town called Emona, which is situated between Upper Pannonia and Noricum. It would not be impertinent to notice what is remarkable concerning this town and its origin.

[5.29.2] It is said, that the Argonauts, being pursued by Aeetas, arrived at the mouth of the Ister by which it discharges itself into the Pontus, and deemed it their best resource to proceed up that river against the stream, by the help of oars and convenient gales of wind, until they should approach nearer to the sea. 

[5.29.3] Having effected this, and arrived at that place, they left a memorial of their arrival there, which was the building of the town. Afterwards placing their ship, the Argo, on machines purposely constructed, they drew it four hundred stadia, as far as the sea-side, and thus arrived at the Thessalian shore, as is related by the poet Pisander, who has comprehended almost the whole story in a poem called The Heroic Marriages of the Gods

[5.29.4] Alaric, having marched out of Emona, and crossed the river Aquilis, passed over the Apennine mountains, and entered Noricum. The Apennine mountainsnote are situated on the borders of Pannonia, and render the way into Noricum very narrow, wherefore, if the pass were guarded by a small number, a large force would find great difficulty in penetrating it.

[5.29.5] Notwithstanding this difficulty, Alaric advanced through into Noricum, and from thence sent messengers to Stilicho, to desire a sum of money not only in consideration of his stay in Epirus, which he said was made at the persuasion of Stilicho, but also to defray his journey into Noricum and Italy. But Stilicho, although he received the embassy, left those who brought it at Ravenna, and proceeded himself to Rome, with a design to consult the emperor and the Senate upon this affair.

[5.29.6] When the Senate was assembled at the imperial palace, and deliberated whether to declare war, most of them were disposed for war. Stilicho, and a few others who complied with him merely through fear, were of a contrary opinion, and voted for a peace with Alaric. 

[5.29.7] When those who preferred a war desired of Stilicho his reason for chusing peace rather than war, and wherefore, to the dishonor of the Roman name, he was willing basely to purchase it with money, he replied, "Alaric has continued this length of time in Epirus that he may join with me against the emperor of the east, and separating the Illyrians from that dominion, add them to the subjects of Honorius." 

[5.29.8] This, he said, would have been effected before this period, had not letters in the mean time arrived from the emperor Honorius, which deferred the expedition to the east, in expectation of which Alaric had spent so much time in that country. When Stilicho had said these words, he produced an epistle from the emperor, and said that Serena was the occasion of all, wishing to preserve an inviolable friendship between the two emperors.

[5.29.9] The Senate, therefore, imagining that Stilicho spoke nothing but what was reasonable, decreed that Alaric should receive three thousand pounds of silver in consideration of maintaining peace, although most of them gave their voices more in dread of Stilicho than of their own judgment or inclination. For this reason, Lampadius, a person of exalted birth and rank, having uttered this Latin sentence, Non est ista pax sed pactio servitutis,note he was compelled, as soon as the Senate was dismissed, to fly into a neighboring church belonging to the Christians, from the fear of being punished for the freedom with which he had expressed himself.