Christian Persecution Through Roman Apprehension Essay

1777 words - 7 pages

Throughout history, prejudice has developed through a misinterpretation of ideas. Most people today are lucky enough to have an education and/or ways of seeking understanding of different ideas and concepts. In ancient times, people had to rely on myths and traditions that were passed down through their ancestors with no scientific way of proving the stories right or wrong. People became comfortable with their beliefs, and if somebody tried to impose a different idea, it initiated uneasiness. In a monarchy like the Ancient Roman Empire, the emperors and senate were not partial to uneasiness because it created turmoil and threatened their control of the government. The usually syncretistic Romans did not welcome Christians, who seemed to disregard the beliefs that were the foundation to the Roman way of life, and therefore felt they had to eradicate the Christian threat through persecution. Different emperors went to different extremes to carry out this persecution, and this generated a discriminatory view of Christians from both pagans and philosophers. A famous Roman philosopher and consul named Pliny considered Christianity "a perverse and extravagant superstition." Other philosophers especially ridiculed the lack of sources and proof that Christians had, and how the poor and uneducated were drawn to the religion because it gave them a sense of equality between each other. The latter was what the government feared, and was why they began discriminating the religion that triumphed in the end.The triumph of Christianity came from its appeal to the people. Christianity became popular because "it offered a sure triumph over death and a happy afterlife." Christians believed that everyone went to eternal punishment or salvation according to how they acted. Christianity appealed to many people who were not satisfied with the available religions. It was strengthened by the fact that it was founded by a real life person, it offered a "close-knit social community," and it combined high moral standards with religious faith. It was much like Stoicism in that one would become enlightened by helping others and finding peace within themselves, except that Christianity did this for the educated and uneducated.The central concern of the Roman state religion was to appeal to the gods to increase material wealth, not moral well-being. Religious leaders had a considerable amount of power in politics. It was custom for the religious leaders to practice augury, read animal entrails, and consult the Sibylline Oracles before senate meetings and other public events. . "Much of the evidence for the importance of religion in the public life of the late republic shows it being manipulated for partisan political purposes." Even though there was much manipulation, a majority of the population practiced the state religion. Those that practiced the state religion were formalists obsessed with perfection in the performance of religious rites. They believed that the good of the...

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