Zosimus, New History 5.36

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.


[5.36.1] But Alaric was not sufficiently excited even by these men to undertake a war, but still preferred peace, being still mindful of the league into which he had entered with Stilicho. He therefore sent ambassadors with a desire to procure a peace, even if he acquired for it but a small sum of money. He likewise desired Aetius and Jason, the former son to Jovius, and the latter to Gaudentius, as hostages, and offered to send them two from among his own nobility under similar circumstances. A peace being made on those terms, he would lead his army out of Noricum into Pannonia. 

[5.36.2] When Alaric demanded peace on those conditions, the emperor refused to grant it, although if he would have disposed of his affairs with prudence, he must have chosen one of two alternatives that were before him. He ought either to have deferred the war, and to have procured a peace by a small sum, or if he preferred to contend, he should have collected together as many units as possible, and have posted them in the route of the enemy, to obstruct the barbarians from advancing any further. He should likewise have chosen a proper person to lead them, and have conferred the command on Sarus, who alone was sufficient to strike terror into the enemy, both by means of his intrepidity and of his experience in warlike affairs, who had also under him a force of barbarians sufficient to make a good defence.

[5.36.3] The emperor, on the contrary, neither accepting the offers of peace, making Sarus his friend, nor collecting the Roman army, but placing all his dependance on Olympius, occasioned the innumerable calamities by which the commonwealth was overwhelmed. For the command was bestowed on such persons as were contemptible in the opinion of the enemy. Turpilio was appointed commander of the cavalry, Varanes of the infantry, Vigilantius of the domestic forces. For these reasons all persons were in despair, and thought the complete destruction of Italy even then before their eyes.