Persecution of Christians

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Christians today form a happy and integral part of society. They have through history suffered greatly along the way. The most significant and remembered of these were the persecutions endured by the Christians at the hands of Ancient Rome. This Roman Persecution of Christians began in the second half of the 1st Century and continued sporadically until the religion gained official status in 313- under the Emperor Constantine The Great.

Reasons for this persecution occurred have been much debated by historians. Evidence suggests the underlying reason for persecution of the Christians by the Romans was due to their perceived antisocial beliefs and the threat these caused to the stability of the Empire. In support of this hypothesis, the following aspects will be examined: the nature and misunderstandings of the Christian beliefs; how these perceived antisocial beliefs resulted in Christians being used as scapegoats and the way in which these beliefs contradicted the Roman way of life at the time, infuriating the people.

The underlying reason for the persecution of the Christians was the perceived threat that their new beliefs caused especially to traditional worship of the Imperial cult and the Caesar worship which underpinned the Empire. The Romans believed in a pantheon of gods, constantly adopting more from surrounding cultures in order to aid assimilation of new cults. Although they had some figures more dominant than others, eg. Apollo and Mars, there were no controlling deities, and believed that all had to be worshipped equally to preserve the "peace of the gods" (Dowley: 1977, 74). It was believed that the gods determined everything and if upset they would have the ability to devastate the Empire. Therefore, Pax Deorum, maintaining this peace with the gods, was an integral part of the Roman lifestyle as it could make or break the Empire. Every god and Emperor had to be acknowledged and provided for. Upon death the Emperor too would elevate to the...
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