1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Zosimus (historian)

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20357481911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 28 — Zosimus (historian)

ZOSIMUS, Greek historical writer, flourished at Constantinople during the second half of the 5th century A.D. According to Photius, he was a count, and held the office of "advocate" of the imperial treasury. His New History, mainly a compilation from previous authors (Dexippus, Eunapius, Olympiodorus), is in six books: the first sketches briefly the history of the early emperors from Augustus to Diocletian (305); the second, third and fourth deal more fully with the period from the accession of Constantius and Galerius to the death of Theodosius; the fifth and sixth cover the period between 395 and 410. The work, which is apparently unfinished, must have been written between 450-502. The style is characterized by Photius as concise, clear and pure. The historian's object was to account for the decline of the Roman empire from the pagan point of view, and in this undertaking he at various points treated the Christians with some unfairness.

The best edition is by Mendelssohn (1887), who fully discusses the question of the authorities used by Zosimus; there is an excellent appreciation of him in Ranke's Weltgeschichte, iv. French translation by Cousin (3678); English (anonymous), 1684, 1814.