Zosimus, New History 5.45

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.


[5.45.1] The affairs of Rome being now in no better condition than before, the emperor sent for five regiments of soldiers, who were quartered in Dalmatia, to guard the city of Rome. These regiments consisted of six thousand men, who for strength and discipline were the flower of the whole Roman army.

[5.45.2] Their general was Valens, a person ready for the greatest and most hazardous enterprises. He disdained, therefore, to appear so cowardly as to march by a way that was not guarded by the enemy. Thus Alaric, delaying until he came up to him, and attacking him with all his forces, cut off all his troops, except a hundred, who with much difficulty escaped, together with their commander. He arrived in safety at Rome together with Attalus, whom the Senate had sent to the emperor. 

[5.45.3] Perceiving that the public calamities were accumulating, Attalus, on his arrival at Rome, dismissed Heliocrates from the office which the emperor had been induced to confer on him by the persuasions of Olympius. Heliocrates was employed to make an inquisition into the estates of those who were banished on account of their acquaintance with or relation to Stilicho and to make a return of them to the treasury. But he being a man of great moderation and of good disposition, considered it an impiety to insult the unfortunate and therefore did not make strict enquiries, but on the contrary sent private notice to many of the parties to conceal what they were able. Being for this reason considered a worthless person, he was seized and carried to Ravenna, to suffer for his humanity towards the unfortunate. 

[5.45.4] He would undoubtedly have died for it through the cruelty which then prevailed, had he not wisely fled to a church belonging to the Christians. Maximilianus, having fallen into the hands of the enemy, was redeemed by his father, Marinianus, with thirty thousand pieces of gold. For since the emperor deferred the peace, and did not fulfil what had been agreed on, the Romans could no longer pass freely out of the city. 

[5.45.5] The Senate therefore a second time sent ambassadors to the emperor concerning the peace, along with whom the bishop of Rome also went. There were in their retinue some barbarians, whom Alaric sent to protect them from their enemies who infested the different roads. When these ambassadors were arrived with the emperor, Athaulf, for whom Alaric had sent, as I before mentioned, had crossed the Alps, between Pannonia and Venice.

[5.45.6] When the emperor heard of his approach and that he had with him an inconsiderable force, he ordered all his troops both horse and foot, which were in the different towns, to march under their own officers to meet him. To Olympius, who was commander of the court guards, he gave the Huns who were in Ravenna, amounting to three hundred. These finding the enemy had arrived at Pisa, attacked them, killed eleven hundred Goths, and returned in safety to Ravenna, with the loss of only seventeen men.