Zosimus, the Last of the Pagan Historians

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One of the most valuable histories of late antiquity is finally available in an economical and useful English edition, with the standard chapter numbers, chronological headings, and helpful and entertaining supplements.

What was it like to be a pagan after the final Christianization of the Empire? For Zosimus, it was clear that Rome had declined and Roman glory was gone—and it was all the Christians’ fault. The Romans had risen to power because they had the favor of the gods; Roman power collapsed because the gods justly withdrew their favor. Zosimus tells us at the beginning that this will be the theme of his history, and he sticks to it.

For much of the history recorded here, Zosimus is the only counterweight to the Christian historians. He is also an opinionated and entertaining companion, and history-lovers will be glad to make his acquaintance in a vigorous English translation.

In this new edition, we have corrected many errors in the 1814 translation (most of them probably the fault of the printer) and added chronological headings and the chapter numbers that have become a standard reference system for Zosimus. We also include the summaries of Zosimus’ now-lost sources by the great Byzantine scholar Photius, and a delightful defense of Zosimus by his Renaissance editor Johannes Leunclavius.

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