Zosimus, New History 5.31

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.


[5.31.1] Before this juncture a report had been circulated at Rome that the emperor Arcadius was dead, which was confirmed after the departure of Honorius for Ravenna. Stilicho being at Ravenna while the emperor was at a city of Aemilia, called Bononia, about seventy miles distant, the emperor sent for him to chastise the soldiers, who mutinied amongst each other by the way.

[5.31.2] Stilicho, therefore, having collected the mutinous troops together, informed them that the emperor had commanded him to correct them for their disobedience, and to punish them by a decimation, or putting to death every tenth man. At this they were in such consternation that they burst into tears, and desiring him to have compassion on them, prevailed on him to promise them a pardon from the emperor. 

[5.31.3] The emperor having performed what Stilicho had promised, they applied themselves to public business. For Stilicho was desirous of proceeding to the east to undertake the management of the affairs of Theodosius, the son of Arcadius, who was very young, and in want of a guardian. Honorius himself was also inclined to undertake the same journey, with a design to secure the dominions of that emperor. 

[5.31.4] But Stilicho, being displeased at that, and laying before the emperor a calculation of the immense sum of money it would require to defray the expence of such an expedition, deterred him from the enterprise. He likewise observed to him, that the rebellion of Constantine would not admit of his going so far, as not to protect Italy and Rome itself, since that usurper had overrun all Gaul, and then resided at Arelate.

[5.31.5] Moreover, though what he had pointed out was sufficient to deserve the attention and presence of the emperor, Alaric was also approaching with a vast force of barbarians, who, being a barbarian and void of faith, when he should find Italy devoid of all aid, would certainly invade it. He, therefore, deemed it the best policy and most conducive to the public advantage that Alaric should undertake the expedition against the rebel Constantine along with part of his barbarians and some Roman units with their officers, who should share in the war. Stilicho added that he himself would proceed to the east, if the emperor desired it, and would give him instructions how to act there. 

[5.31.6] The emperor, deceived by these specious representations of Stilicho, gave him letters both to the emperor of the east and to Alaric, and departed from Bononia. But Stilicho remained there, and neither proceeded to the east, nor performed any thing else that was designed. He did not even send over any of the soldiers, who were in Ticinum, to Ravenna or any other place, lest they should meet the emperor by the way, and incite him to do any thing to the prejudice of himself.