Zosimus, New History 5.32

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.


[5.32.1] Stilicho, being in these circumstances, although he was not conscious of any ill intention either against the emperor or the soldiers, Olympius, a native of the vicinity of the Euxine Sea, and an officer of rank in the court-guards, concealed under the disguise of the Christian religion the most atrocious designs in his heart. Being accustomed, because of his affected modesty and gentle demeanor, to converse frequently with the emperor, he used many bitter expressions against Stilicho, and stated, that he was desirous to proceed into the east, from no other motive than to acquire an opportunity of removing the young Theodosius, and of placing the empire in the hands of his own son, Eucherius.

[5.32.2] These observations he made to the emperor as they were travelling, having then a good opportunity of doing it. And when the emperor was at Ticinum, Olympius, accustoming himself to visit the sick soldiers, which was the master-piece of his hypocrisy, dispersed among them, likewise, similar insinuations.

[5.32.3] When the emperor had been at Ticinum four days, all the soldiers being convened into the court, the emperor appeared before them, and exhorted them to a war against the rebel Constantine. Finding that none of them were moved at any thing relative to Stilicho, Olympius was observed to nod to the soldiers, as if to remind them of what he had said to them in private.

[5.32.4] At this they were excited almost to madness, and killed Limenius, who was prefect of the court in the nations beyond the Alps, and with him Chariobaudes, the commander of the armies in those parts. For these two had accidentally escaped from the hands of the usurper, and were come to the emperor at Ticinum. Beside these two were slain Vincentius and Salvius, the former, the commander of the cavalry, and the latter of the domestic forces.

[5.32.5] As the tumult increased, the emperor retired into the palace, and some of the magistrates escaped. The soldiers, then dispersing themselves about the city, killed as many of the magistrates as they could lay hands on, tearing them out of the houses into which they had fled, and plundered all the town. So violent was the commotion, that the emperor, finding the disorder beyond remedy, put on a short mantle, and without either his long robe or his diadem, issuing into the midst of the city, had great difficulty in appeasing and restraining their fury.

[5.32.6] For those magistrates who were taken, even after their flight, were murdered. Among these were Naemorius commander of the court-bands, Petronius, the treasurer and steward of the emperor's private property, and Salvius, whose office it was to proclaim the intentions of the emperor upon any occasion, which officer had borne the title of quaestor from the time of Constantine. Nor could the latter escape death, though he embraced the emperor's knees.

[5.32.7] The tumult continued till late in the night, and the emperor fearing lest any violence should be committed against his own person also, for which reason he withdrew. They then happened to find Longinianus, the prefect of the court for Italy, whom they put to death. All these magistrates were slain by the infuriated soldiers. There likewise perished so great a number of promiscuous persons as is beyond all computation.