Christianity was frowned upon by the Romans. The Roman Emperor wanted the people to worship him and the Roman Gods. Christians were blamed for many of the misfortunes that happened in Rome. Due to the belief that Christians were to blame they were ostracized, tortured and even killed.
From the third to the fourth century, the Roman Empire witnessed a widespread attempt to stop the spread of Christianity. Initially, leaders of the church were predominately targeted, but later anyone admitting to Christianity became a target. The persecutions hit a climax during Diocletian’s reign. These persecutions actually helped the spread of Christianity by glorifying Christians and beginning a tradition of martyrdom that shaped the Church, and the strength that Christians displayed shows that the persecutions could not have possible stopped the spread of Christianity.
Within the Roman Empire, Christianity was banned and Christians were punished for many years. Feeding Christians to the lions were seen as entertainment in Ancient Rome. In AD 313, the Emperor Constantine made Christianity legal and for the first time, they were allowed to openly worship. Churches were quickly built not just in Rome but throughout the empire, The main beliefs of Christianity The belief of one god, so it was monotheistic and the god that they worshipped was not the emperor so that is why the emperor was upset. The religions started out fairly similar to each other but as I said earlier when there imperial Rome's religion changed there was really no more similarities in the two empires religion.
Christians went from being persecuted to dominating Rome rather quickly. In a world where separation between church and state does not exist, a Christian becoming the sole emperor of Rome symbolized a huge turning point in history. The power switched and the Pagans in turn became persecuted. Christians rose up and took control of all aspects of Roman society. The Pagan past was destroyed, banned, or forgotten about. Those Christians that did not agree with how things were being run either left the empire and became monks or formed their own sect. All of Rome changed.
According to Gaddis (2005) some of the Christians were tortured as well as being burnt alive, while others were publicly executed. Furthermore, it would seem that the more the Romans persecuted them, the more their hatred grew for them, as they believed them to be disobedient and a danger to the Empire. As such they did everything in their power to rid themselves of the Christians. The only consequence for the Christians at this time was, they either obeyed the law by sacrificing to the Pagan Gods or face persecution. However, Gaddis (2005) suggests that some of the Christians looked at the Roman persecution as not so much a Roman persecution, but one from their own God, who was testing their faith so that they could repent for their
Roman society didn’t care for the Christians very much. They would blame them for communal catastrophes, such as earthquakes and outbreaks of diseases. They would claim that these misfortunes were caused by the Christians angering the gods. Being Christian by itself was illegal. “The crime of being Christians; that is, to belonging to an illegal sect or association. The penalty for such unlicensed association was death.” (pg. 174) There was freedom given to anyone who renounced their faith and was willing to worship a Roman god. The martyrs went through vicious punishments for staying in their faith. This tells us that living in Roman society could be fatal if you don’t follow what the Roman Empire expected you to be.
At the beginning of the first century a new religion was born and started to spread rapidly across the Roman Empire. Its source of inspiration was Jesus. It was different to the other religions of the day in a profound way. It was universal, offering all things to all men, proclaiming an afterlife, triumph over death, and presenting a road to salvation for all men and women. It emphasised the inner life and filled the spiritual void created by the Roman lifestyle. Yet it was one of many religions. There were many rivals, the mystery religions of Persia, Syria and Egypt were popular at the time and of course there was Judaism. Nothing at the time suggested this Jewish heresy could rival the other religions. Nevertheless Christianity spread relatively quickly, mainly due to the missionary work of St. Paul and, also, St. Peter. St Paul's journeys took him to Palestine, Asia, Macedonia, Greece, Rome and finally Spain. In addition this new religion spread quickly throughout the Roman garrisons and from there was carried by the soldiers through the Empire. In early fourth century Emperor Decius attempted to wipeout the Christian faith, the great persecution lasted thirteen years, but in 313 the 'Edict of Milan', in which religious tolerance was granted to Christians and previous
Emperor Nero had set a great fire in Rome that had burnt down a great part of it. In order to direct all the blame away from himself he blamed the followers of Christianity for the fire. He ordered the brutal killing of Christians and over the next hundred years small persecutions of the followers were made. It was not until the Emperor Diocletian made the Edict of Diocletian. It ordered the destruction of Christian scriptures, destruction of worship places, and the arrest of Christian clergy. Anyone who refused to renounce their faith would be sentenced to torture and death. This continued for 10 years until the death of Diocletian. Subsequently, Emperor Constantine came into power and converted his ideas towards the religion from a military victory. “The conversion was a result of either a vision or dream in which Christ directed him to fight under Christian standards, and his victory assured Constantine in his faith in a new god” (Lunn-Rockliffe). This military victory influenced him to give the legal rights to Christians when he made the Edict of Milan. The Edict of Milan made it possible to worship any deity as any person pleases in the Roman Empire. Constantine was the first emperor to embrace and legalize the religion of
‘Christians to the lions’ as Trajan would say, an emperor in the early centuries Christianity to them have alienated the favour of their gods which has and would continue to cause disasters in the Roman Empire. The misfortune of Christians did not stop during this period, but it did come to a composed halt as Galerius, gave Christians the right to worship in some sense. Christianity during the early stages was clearly a course of persecution and forced pagan accusations. Constantine dramatically changed the recourse of religions with the battle of Milvian Bridge as Christianity became the predominant religion of the Roman Empire.
According to the sources the Christians were hated by the people of Rome. According to a source, that was written by Tacitus in 64 AD, they were “ a class hated for their abominations, who are commonly called criminals......... an immense multitude was convicted, not so much on the charge of arson as because of hatred of the human race.” (Tacitus, Annales 1a). They were convicted of crimes due to the fact that the Romans hated them. The
Imperial persecution became wholesale throughout the Empire. Initially the Jewish community was the instigators of this persecution of Christians. The book of Acts outlines several incidents involving such persecution. During the decade of 60 A.D., periods of Roman persecution occurred, however this persecution was sporadic. For example, Nero was ruler of the Roman Empire, under his reign Rome was set on fire and burnt to the ground. Christians became the scapegoat for this cowardly act. Tasitus wrote that perhaps Nero himself started the blaze, as an excuse to persecute the Christians. Nero’s acts of persecution were contained within the confines of Rome.
It was this refusal that caused its practice to be illegal and those who chose to stick with the faith were prosecuted. Although people were being killed for practicing, Christianity started to become even more popular. After seeing Christian martyrs risk their lives for the sake of Christianity, many Romans were compelled and attracted to the faith. Also, there were Apostles who traveled around the empire spreading the message of Christianity. Then in 312 CE, Emperor Constantine proposed the Edict of Milan that banned all laws against Christianity. That allowed people to freely worship, without the fear of harsh punishment. He eventually converted on his deathbed. Then in 392 CE, Emperor Theodosius made Christianity the official religion of Rome. Christianity went from being an illegal religion to the official religion of the Roman Empire.
The emperor Nero used Christianity as a scapegoat to divert attention away from his own failings and the empire problems. He told the empires people that because the Christians were not practicing the traditional pagan religion the gods were mad punishing the Romans. During Nero Rule some problems were plagues, famine, barbarians, and lots of other natural disasters. Nero and many other emperors’ prosecutions of the Christian brought them closer together. With the plagues, wars, famine and other chaotic events taking place the first converts were slaves and the poor people who need hope that there was an afterlife a better place beyond the chaotic roman world called heaven. In 313 Constantine I and Eastern Roman Emperor Licinius ratified the Edict of Milan, Which finally made Christianity legal and later the religion of Rome. The emperor would have difficulty ruling since the pope and other church officials were involved in politics and as powerful as he was further complicating governance. Unlike Rome pagan roots Christians during those days had zero tolerance for any other religion of any one who stood against their beliefs and
First of all, there was a Great Fire of Rome that started in 64 AD, and Emperor Nero blamed the Christians for this horrible disaster. Although, many people thought that Nero started the fire, he took this opportunity to put all the blame on the people he hated the most, the Christians. After he blamed them, he sent them to jail for the crime of hating mankind. In jail they got tourcherd by dogs ripping them apart, and they
The authors of Civilizations Past & Present state that before the Edict of Milan, Rome was tolerant of other religions so long as they did not threaten the empire. Christianity, however, was regarded as dangerous to the social order and the empire itself. This is because the empire worshipped gods which were not included in the Christian faith (a monotheistic system of belief). Roman officials considered Christians’ refusal to sacrifice to Roman gods as a form of betrayal. Additionally, Christians secluded themselves from the citizens of other faiths and denied their religions, claiming they were illegitimate. They were pacifistic individuals, refused to join the army and refused to attend events their faith decreed sinful.