Zosimus, New History 5.34

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.


[5.34.1] Stilicho being therefore filled with anxiety concerning these circumstances, the barbarians who were with him were very desirous of putting in force their former resolutions, and therefore endeavored to dissuade him from the measures which he afterwards thought proper to be adopted. But being unable to prevail with him, they all determined to remain in some place until they should be better apprized of the emperor's sentiments towards Stilicho, with the exception of Sarus, who excelled all the other confederates in power and rank, and who, accompanied by the barbarians under his command, having killed all the Huns who formed the guard of Stilicho while they were asleep, and having seized all the carriages that followed him, entered his tent, in which he remained to observe the event. 

[5.34.2] Upon this Stilicho, observing that his barbarians were quarrelling among each other, hastened to Ravenna, and engaged the cities, in which were any women or children belonging to the barbarians, not to afford reception to any of the barbarians if they should come to them. In the meantime Olympius, who was now become master of the emperor's inclination, sent, the imperial mandate to the soldiers at Ravenna, ordering them immediately to apprehend Stilicho, and to detain him in prison without fetters.

[5.34.3] When Stilicho heard this, he took refuge in a Christian church that was near, while it was night. His barbarians and his other familiars, who, with his servants, were all armed, upon seeing this expected what would ensue. 

[5.34.4] When day appeared, the soldiers, entering the church, swore before the bishop that they were commanded by the emperor not to kill Stilicho, but to keep him in custody. Being brought out of the church and in the custody of the soldiers, other letters were delivered by the person who brought the first, in which the punishment of death was denounced against Stilicho, for his crimes against the commonwealth. 

[5.34.5] Thus, while Eucherius, his son, fled towards Rome, Stilicho was led to execution. The barbarians who attended him, with his servants and other friends and relations, of whom there was a vast number, preparing and resolving to rescue him from the stroke, Stilicho deterred them from the attempt by all imaginable menaces, and calmly submitted his neck to the sword. He was the most moderate and just of all the men who possessed great authority in his time. 

[5.34.6] For although he was married to the niece of the first Theodosius, was entrusted with the empires of both his sons, and had been a commander twenty-three years, yet he never conferred military rank for money, or coverted the stipend of the soldiers to his own use.

[5.34.7] Being the father of one only son, he offered to him the office of tribune of the Notarii, and limitted him neither to desire nor attempt obtaining any other office or authority. In order that no studious person, or astrologers, maybe ignorant of the time of his death, I shall relate, that it happened in the consulship of Bassus and Philippus, during which the emperor Arcadius submitted to fate, on the twenty-second day of August.