Zosimus, New History 1

Zosimus (Greek Ζώσιμος): Early Byzantine, pagan author of a history of the Roman Empire, published in the first quarter of the sixth century CE.

Book 1


Zosimus’ first book begins with some remarks about the causes behind the historical process, which must be

either fatal necessity, the influence of the planets, or the will of the Deity, which regards with favor all our actions while they are just and virtuous,note

It was this cause that made Rome a great power but has also caused its decline. Next, Zosimus offers a very brief Greek history from the Trojan War to Alexander the Great, followed bt an account of the Roman Republic and the origin of the Augustan Empire.

The emperors of the two first centuries are mentioned in increasing detail, with Zosimus paying quite some attention to the occupiers of the praetorian prefecture. At some indeterminable point, Zosimus starts to use information from the Universal History of Eunapius. For the age of the emperors Valerian (r.253-260), Gallienus (r.260-268), Claudius II (r.268-270), and Aurelian (r.270-275), Zosimus is one of our most important sources. This means he also is an important source for the history of the Palmyrene Empire, which ends with an account of the reliability of the oracles.

The first book ends with the reign of Probus (r.276-282). There is a lacuna that must have contained the reign of Diocletian (r.284-305) and his colleague Maximian (r.285-305).


  1. Introduction
  2. From the Trojan War to the Persian War
  3. Greece until Alexander
  4. Alexander the Great
  5. The rise of Rome; the nature of monarchy
  6. From Augustus to Domitian
  7. From Nerva to Didius Julianus
  8. Septimius Severus
  9. Caracalla, Geta, and Papinianus
  10. Macrinus
  11. Heliogabalus, Severus Alexander, and Ulpianus
  12. Severus Alexander
  13. Maximinus Thrax
  14. The Gordians
  15. Fall of Maximinus Thrax
  16. Rise of Gordian III
  17. Gordian and Themistheus
  18. Gordian's Persian war
  19. Coup of Philip
  20. Reign of Philip
  21. Philip send Decius to the Danube
  22. Revolt of Decius
  23. Decius defeats the Scythae
  24. Sack of Philippopolis
  25. Reign of Trebonianus Gallus
  26. Scythian successes
  27. More foreign attacks
  28. Rise of Aemilian
  29. Rise of Valerian
  30. Rule of Valerian and Gallienus
  31. More foreign attacks
  32. Barbarian raids on the Bosphorus
  33. Sack of Trapezus
  34. Sack of Chalcedon
  35. Sack of Nicomedia
  36. Valerian taken captive
  37. Italy invaded; Gallienus defends Rome
  38. Origins of the Gallic Empire
  39. Odaenathus and Zenobia
  40. The end of Gallienus
  41. Death of Gallienus
  42. Scythian attacks
  43. Claudius defeats the Scythians
  44. The Palmyrenes conquer Egypt
  45. Claudius pursues the Scythians
  46. Death of Claudius
  47. Accession of Aurelian
  48. Aurelian repels the Scythians
  49. Aurelian suppresses a rebellion in Rome
  50. Aurelian attacks Zenobia of Palmyra
  51. Aurelian takes Antioch
  52. Aurelian proceeds to Emesa
  53. Aurelian defeats the Palmyrenes
  54. Aurelian lays siege to Palmyra
  55. Zenobia arrested
  56. Aurelian captures Palmyra
  57. An oracle about Palmyra
  58. Another oracle
  59. Death of Zenobia
  60. Second revolt of Palmyra
  61. End of Palmyra and the Gallic Empire
  62. Death of Aurelian
  63. Reign of Tacitus
  64. Civil war between Florian and Probus
  65. Punishment of the murderers of Aurelian and Tacitus
  66. Rebellions
  67. Probus' Germanic war
  68. Probus defeats the Franks
  69. Crimes of Lydius
  70. Death of Lydius
  71. Frankish pirates