The Persecutions of Christians in the Roman Empire

Exclusively available on PapersOwl
Updated: Mar 17, 2023
Read Summary
Cite this
Category: Religion
Date added
Pages:  5
Words:  1488
Order Original Essay

How it works

Christians in Rome went through the Great Persecution by emperors, which led to them being blamed for starting the Great Fire. Many probably know this due to having heard about or studied Nero. A major part of this knowledge would come from the Great Fire. But what many most likely didn’t realize is that Nero wasn’t the only one to cause the Persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire. There were also several laws and edicts made so as to either help or destroy the Christian religion.

One part of the Persecution would be the emperors. Depending on who ruled, the Persecution could range from severe and harsh to a little discrimination. In the case of Nero, he was harsh and cruel. His cruelty is shown during the Great Fire, which he supposedly started. Many accused Nero of helping the Fire grow by ordering people to throw flammable objects into it. People also accused him of playing the lyre in safety during the burning of Rome. Because of these accusations, Nero decided to pin the blame on someone else. He chose the Christians because they were highly disliked during that time. A considerable amount of people believed this scapegoat tactic and started persecuting Christians.
Next, we have the emperor Trajan. Trajan mostly told Pliny the younger to deal with the Christians. Pliny sentenced the Christians to death if they ignored the gods and the emperor. Trajan did have a rule for persecuting Christians, though. It was that you could only persecute them for reasonable things, such as disregarding the gods. Although he had a fair rule, the Christians didn’t follow this rule. Because they refused, they were through to the wild animals.

Need a custom essay on the same topic?
Give us your paper requirements, choose a writer and we’ll deliver the highest-quality essay!
Order now

Then, we come upon Hadrian. Hadrian also didn’t want Christians to be persecuted for no good reason, so he had a rule that they were innocent until proven guilty. Yet again, though this was a fair rule, Hadrian insulted the Jews and Christians by building temples to the gods. But to make it worse, he built the temples over the supposed spot of the crucifixion. Hadrian also made Christians swear honor to and call their Emperor lord to show their loyalty to Rome.

Antoninus Pius was another emperor involved in the Persecution. Although he wasn’t as big of a participant in the Persecution of Christians, the townsfolk and government were the ones who decided to take the job. The Persecution died down for a little while after an execution of an 86-year-old man.
Another emperor who persecuted the Christians was Marcus Aurelius. Aurelius didn’t think much about the Christians besides the fact that he thought they were overly superstitious. When the Christians willingly went to their executions, he thought it was just an act. Under Aurelius’s rule, Christians were blamed for natural disasters because they would refuse to sacrifice to the gods. In doing this, slaves were tortured into giving testimony to their masters.

Septimius Severus was another emperor whom the Christians were persecuted greatly. Christians were burned, beheaded, or executed daily. During Severus’ reign, he issued a law that would ban the spreading of Christianity and Judaism. Several brutal persecutions came to happen after this law was decreed. When Severus passed on his reign, the persecutions decreased.

After Severus’ reign came to Decius Trajan. Decius Trajan made a law to further exterminate the pagan religion of Christianity since it died down a bit after Septimius Severus’ reign. During his reign, those who were thought to be Christian had the opportunity to sacrifice to the gods so as not to be executed. This was to prove their loyalty to the government. Several Christians did this so as not to be put into prison and interrogated. Though many Christians refused to sacrifice to the gods resulting in torture, exile, and death, those that gave into the pressure or were bribed were excommunicated from the Christian religion.

Finally, Diocletian was a cruel emperor. The Persecution during Diocletian’s reign was so bad that the church forgot all the persecutions of the past. Diocletian ordered for churches and Bibles to be burned, he didn’t allow Christians to have civil rights, and he made them sacrifice to the gods to they would die. Later, Diocletian made a law that everyone had to sacrifice to the gods and that all the food in the market would be sprinkled with sacrificial wine.

One of the many devastations during the Persecution of Christians was the Great Fire. The Fire started in 64 AD and began in the Circus Maximus or the outskirts south of Palatine hill. The flame spread to the north, fanned by the wind. People also helped increase the Fire by throwing flammable objects into the flame. The Fire burned for three days. This caused three districts to be utterly destroyed, and only four of the fourteen districts were unscaved by the Fire. People were either homeless or dead.

Many believed that Nero was the cause of the Fire due to his motives of wanting to build a new palace. Some believed that he helped contribute to feeding the Fire by ordering the people to throw flammable objects into the Fire. A rumor went around saying that during the Fire, Nero was playing his fiddle. Though it is unlikely that Nero could play a fiddle since it was a lyre that he knew how to play, the people were enraged. So, Nero using the growing dislike of the Christians to his advantage, blamed the Fire on them. He got away clean and used the Christians as a scapegoat. Then, Nero persecutes the Christians by arresting, torturing, and executing them because they supposedly started the Fire.

Overall, the time of Diocletian’s reign was when the Great Persecution really began to start. Diocletian didn’t want to kill Christians but just to have them worship the gods. Many still refused. This is where Diocletian didn’t know what to do since he thought that everyone would like his ideas. So, he decided to put the Christians in jail and sentence them to death. Some made slaves and worked in the mines for him.

Even though many people persecuted the Christians, God made some things work for the good of the Christians, such as edicts and certain people. During Diocletian’s reign, there was a man named Galarius. Galarius declared that he was defeated in trying to execute the Christians, so he issued the Edict of Toleration. This allowed the Christians to meet with each other and even pray to God, but only if they didn’t disturb the government.

A year later came the battle of the Milvian Bridge. Here Constantine, an emperor who wanted to help the Christians instead of persecuting them, was trying to cross the Milvian bridge, which was reduced in its width in order to slow Constantine down. In order to cross in a quicker fashion, Maxentius, Constantine’s rival, used pontoons to get his men across the river so to set up guard. With Maxentius now on guard at the bridge, he had set his troops close to the water. A little too close. So, when the battle started, his troops were pushed back and fell into the water. Maxentius’ ranks broke, which wouldn’t have been a problem except that the ranks couldn’t get back together again. Because of this, Maxentius decided to have a strategic retreat, but that was a catastrophe. When Maxentius and his army went to the retreat, there was little to no room between Constantine’s forces and the width of the bridge. It also didn’t help that Constantine’s forces were pushing against Maxentius’ army. With that, multiple people of Maxentius’ force appear to have drowned, including Maxentius himself.

During the same year, Constantine issued the Edict of Milan. This edict allowed the Christians to worship God legally, have their proper rights, and allow them back their confiscated property if applied to them. This also is what made the Romans accept this religion. Constantine also made Christianity the official religion of Rome. Because of this action influenced several other people to convert to this new religion, Although many only did it because it was the official religion, it still helped Christianity increase throughout the world, and the edict would stay around for a long time, unlike other edicts.

Before, I had stated that Christians in Rome went through the Great Persecution by emperors, which led to them being blamed for starting the Great Fire. Nero, for example, supposedly started the Great Fire. Diocletian was a major contributor to the Great Persecution and, in fact, was the one who started it. Constantine was an extraordinary asset to the Christians through the Battle of the Milvian and the Edict of Milan. Christians were blamed for the Great Fire because of Persecution, but God worked it out for good through the issue of edicts and through Constantine’s great assistance. In the end, through God’s help, Christianity was made the official religion of the Roman Empire.

The Persecutions of Christians in the Roman Empire essay

The deadline is too short to read someone else's essay

Hire a verified expert to write you a 100% Plagiarism-Free paper

Cite this page

The Persecutions of Christians in the Roman Empire. (2023, Mar 17). Retrieved from