A question on history

I know I have some friends here who have specialized in ancient history and could be of help here. You don’t have to go dust your books to answer this question.

I am curious, were there any persecutions during the reign of the Antonines in Rome, that is, persecutions done on the direct command of the emperor, not by his representatives elsewhere?

About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

25 thoughts on “A question on history

  1. john zande says:

    Not sure, but I’ve always found this article interesting regarding the persecution that never actually was.



  2. I’ve only got one book to hand and it isn’t dusty, but it stops at exactly the wrong date, AD138. It’s also extremely old, even older than me, but despite finishing prior to the Antonines, it has a chapter on the rise of christianity. I’ll see what it says. Maybe not before tomorrow though.


    • makagutu says:

      I have Gibbon’s Decline and Fall and he starts with the period of the Antonines and writes that for the 42 years they ruled the empire, the government can only be said to have been concerned with the happiness of the citizens, each person even in the distant provinces allowed to worship their gods. I find it strange that it can be claimed Polycarp was persecuted during Marcus’ reign. It seem not to add up.


    • makagutu says:

      Looking forward to that


      • I did have a look. I’ll pull a quick summary together for you.


        • makagutu says:

          that will be most kind of you


          • OK. Here we go. Little registered in primary sources about persecution in first century and a half of Roman Empire, which coincides with JC.

            Cassius Dio, for example, is reluctant to refer to christianity.

            Nero’s persecutions left a widespread misconception about persecutions.

            ‘It is popularly believed’ blah blah loads of christians were martyred. ‘This is not the case.’

            The Principate was pretty tolerant and believing in lots of gods was happy to add yet another to the pantheon.

            My book attributes the rise of christianity, and therefore the onset of C3 persecutions to the need for monotheism, that multiple mystery gods weren’t doing it for the people, and neither was Caesar worship.

            Not quite addressing your question, but no evidence for Antonine persecutions. They tended to turn a blind eye to local spats, eg Jews killing christians. I think basically that answers your point. I’ll have a look at my later books next week, see what they say, don’t have them to hand.


  3. They complain as if there were considerable efforts to eradicate Christianity from the face of the planet. For all the complaining we must put up with I don’t think the world got its money’s worth. According to the stories they tell, they owe us a fairly large number of dead Christians to make things even.

    The idea that they were persecuted flies in the face of the number of dead bodies YHWH stacked up to get them their special place in his heaven. It’s sort of like having to listen to a blood covered Spartan complain about how Spartans are persecuted by Athens.

    Whether they were persecuted or not cannot tell us much. It does not validate their beliefs. If they were persecuted then it might be said that it was not a thorough enough campaign. A shame is that. The believers of YHWH need to be quiet about persecution lest other people read the history of their god and people. Joshua is not exactly the poster child for victimhood and YHWH killed way more people, and in nasty ways, than any other being in recorded or storied history.


  4. Barry says:

    As Christianity wasn’t an officially “approved” religion for its first few centuries, I suspect Christians would have been treated as “other” by a large part of the societies they lived in. Just like in most societies, minorities don’t have equal access to the advantages of the society they live in.

    It’s natural that victims of discrimination perceive how they are treated as a form of persecution. One only need look at the rate of police violence against back males in America, compared to other sections of the community, to understand what persecution could feel like.

    Given time, isolated cases of victimisation can grow into myths of widespread, even “official” persecution. In fact, blacks in many states in the US were legally discriminated against until I was in my late teens. I’m surprised more exaggerated myths about how they were treated haven’t arisen (or perhaps more time is required.

    Is it safe to assume that what became the “Official” theology and practices of the established church was what the early Christians practised and believed?Were the early beliefs distorted in order to maintain authority by those in power?


    • makagutu says:

      Hi Barry,
      As far as I can tell, in the present moment, Christianity so called was codified under Constantine and points directly to the decline of the empire. As to early Christians what am finding is their reliance on the OT as the prophecy and many if not all books that currently make the canon were unknown to them. But there is a lot of forgery, embellishments and additions as the texts are copied and transmitted in that early age.

      As to the rest of what you say, I agree.


      • Barry says:

        I always thought that the empire was already in decline when it become the official religion under Constantine. Regardless, the establishment of the Church in Rome certainly led to its rise in power and authority, and its inevitable corruption.

        I understand that embellishments were once considered “justified” as a literary means of “improving” the clarity or authority of the message. I won’t speculate on the motives behind forgeries as I haven’t bothered to look into it much. Certainly in those days, it would have been virtually impossible to verify the accuracy of a copied text.


      • Most empires start to decline for the same reasons. Primarily financial and too big to kerp to financially and to administrate.


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