The Persecution Of Christians And Jews

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In order to better understand the persecution of Christians and Jews that occurred during the reign of the emperor Domitian in the year 89 AD, one must first understand the dynastic line he was born into. Domitian was a member of the Flavian family, a family that has origins in the equestrian class, the tier just below the senatorial class in terms of influence and wealth. Domitian’s grandfather, Sabinus, had built up the family’s wealth first as a tax collector, and later as a money-lender. Sabinus’ successes in his career are seen in his ability to pay the required one million sesterces necessary for each of his two sons to enter the senate. At the time of Domitian’s birth in 51 CE, his father, Vespasian, was only a mildly important politician. He had obtained the rank of consul in the same year as Domitian’s birth, when he was forty-two years old. Many ancient historians thread the story of Domitian’s youth as one of poverty. Suetonius tells the rumor that Domitian was so impoverished when he was young, that he was forced to sell himself to older senators in order to survive. Sodomy was a condoned practice in ancient Roman society, but being the passive participant, as Domitian would have been, in a homosexual relationship left one open for criticism. Rumors such as this were a common means to slander emperors and other men of high rank as it was Roman belief that lack of control, especially in one’s sex life, led to the inability to govern others. Suetonius also
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