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, ยง 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

to Pandataria.





(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.



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