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Roman Persecutions of Christians - Essay Example

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Roman Persecutions of Christians The attitude of the Romans to religion, in the early days of the empire, was very practical and tolerant. In fact the Romans added many of the gods of areas that they conquered, to their own pantheon of gods, and gave them Roman names…
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Roman Persecutions of Christians
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Download file to see previous pages Many historians are of the opinion, that the Romans believed that the neglect of the old gods who had made Rome strong, was responsible for the disasters that Rome faced. Is it then safe to assume that the persecutions of Christians, stemmed from a distrust of something alien to the Romans, or were there other causes for these persecutions? The persecutions began slowly but after the middle of the third century, were initiated intensively by some of the Roman emperors. In the beginning, these persecutions were generally a result of personal hostilities between people, where the real issues were hidden behind the excuse of their being of a different faith. However, slowly Christians began to be looked upon as people who took part in weird rites, like partaking of Christ’s flesh and blood, that was mistaken for cannibalism. The distrust grew as Christians refused to take part in the pagan rites of sacrifice to Roman gods, and to the emperor who was considered a semi divine being. This was considered an insult to the gods who looked after the well being of the people, and therefore endangered the empire.There were also other reasons why the people considered the Christians unpatriotic. The Romans took pride in their Roman citizenship, while the Christians declared that they were citizens of heaven. They also shrank from obligations of public and military service. However, a closer look at the events that preceded the persecutions, paints a different picture. Persecutions were generally sparked off by certain events that went against an emperor. Is it then possible that periods of crisis like a threatening invasion, or an economic or political instability, were triggers that led to these persecutions? This seems to have been the case in the persecutions that took place when a disastrous fire broke out in Rome during the reign of Nero. The first persecution sanctioned by an emperor was in A.D. 64 by the eccentric emperor Nero. During the early years of Nero’s reign, he was guided by the wisdom of his tutor Seneca and Burrus. By A.D. 62, Burrus died and Seneca retired, after which the wise constraints on Nero’s eccentric character were gone, and Nero was free to indulge himself . The costly war against Parthia and the revolts in Britain had drained the treasury and the Roman empire was in turmoil. Against this background, Nero was more interested in poetry, music and such other pursuits, and surrounded himself with frivolous and riotous companions that offended the public. His extravagances only served to further drain the imperial coffers, and taking advantage of his inattention to affairs of state, rebellions began to erupt. In the midst of these distressing events, Rome suffered the most disastrous fire in its history. Nero had become so unpopular, that people believed he had started the fire in order to be able to rebuild the city in the Greek style that he greatly admired, and also build a new and grand palace for himself. Although historians are unanimous in their opinion that Nero gave help to those left homeless in the fire and also rebuilt the city excellently; the rumor that the fire was the act of the self indulgence of the ruthless tyrant Nero, refused to die down. Unable to find other means of convincing his people that he was not responsible for the fire, Nero played on the fears of the people and made scapegoats of the Christians, ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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