The Persecution Under Domitian
What is commonly called the persecution under Domitian (81-96) does not
seem to have been a persecution of Christianity as such. The charges of
atheism and superstition may have been due to heathen misunderstanding of
the Christian faith and worship. There is no sufficient ground for
identifying Flavius Clemens with the Clemens who was bishop of Rome. For
bibliography of the persecution under Domitian, see Preuschen, Analecta,
second ed., I, 11.
(a) Cassius Dio (excerpt. per Xiphilinum), Hist. Rom., LXVII, 14 f.
Preuschen, Analecta, I, § 4:11.
For Cassius Dio, see Encyc. Brit., art. "Dio Cassius."
At that time (95) the road which leads from Sinuessa to Puteoli was paved.
And in the same year Domitian caused Flavius Clemens along with many
others to be put to death, although he was his cousin and had for his wife
Flavia Domitilla, who was also related to him. The charge of atheism was
made against both of them, in consequence of which many others also who
had adopted the customs of the Jews were condemned. Some were put to
death, others lost their property. Domitilla, however, was only banished
(b) Eusebius, Hist. Ec., III, 18. (MSG, 20:252.)
To such a degree did the teaching of our faith flourish at that time(2)
that even those writers who were far from our religion did not hesitate to
mention in their histories the persecutions and martyrdoms which took
place during that time. And they, indeed, accurately indicate the time.
For they record that, in the fifteenth year of Domitian, Flavia Domitilla,
daughter of a sister of Flavius Clemens, who was at that time one of the
consuls of Rome, was exiled with many others to the island of Pontia(3) in
consequence of testimony borne to Christ.