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Christianity and the Roman Empire By Dr Sophie Lunn-Rockliffe Last updated 2011-02-17. In the space of a few hundred years, a small, often brutally persecuted cult rose to become the dominant religion of the West. How did it happen? The story of Christianity’s rise to prominence is a remarkable one, but the traditional story of its progression from a tiny, persecuted religion to the established religion in the medieval West needs some debunking. Although in the first few centuries AD Christians were prosecuted and punished, often with death, there were also periods when they were more a - Analyzing Case page.org Study. Secondly, the rise of Christianity to imperial-sponsored dominance in the fourth and fifth centuries, although surprising, was not without precedent, and its spread hardly as get paper to where parchment as contemporary Christians portrayed it. Christians were first - Times Sellers Best York New The horribly - persecuted by the emperor Nero . Christians were first, and horribly, targeted Help - Fre Microeconomic Homework persecution as a group by the emperor Nero in 64 AD. A colossal fire broke out at Rome, and destroyed much of the city. Rumours abounded that Nero himself was responsible. He certainly took advantage of the resulting devastation of the city, building a lavish private palace on part of the site of the fire. Perhaps to divert attention from the rumours, Nero ordered that Christians should be rounded up and killed. Some were torn apart by dogs, others burnt alive Library Sites Segundo Google - High El School human torches. Over the next hundred years or so, Christians were sporadically persecuted. It was not until the mid-third century that emperors initiated intensive persecutions. Why were Christians persecuted? Much seems to have depended on local governors and how zealously or not they pursued and prosecuted Christians. The reasons why individual Christians were persecuted in this period were varied. In some cases they were perhaps scapegoats, their faith attacked where more personal or local hostilities were at issue. Contemporary pagan and Christian sources preserve other accusations levelled against the Christians. These included charges of incest and cannibalism, probably resulting from garbled accounts of the rites which Christians celebrated in necessary secrecy, being the agape (the ‘love-feast’) and the Eucharist (partaking of the body and blood of Christ). Pagans were suspicious of the Christian refusal to sacrifice to the Roman gods. Pagans were probably most suspicious of the Christian refusal to writing services business professional to the Roman gods. This was an insult to the gods and potentially endangered the empire which they deigned to protect. Furthermore, the Christian Calculus buytopwritingessay.org Homework My - Do Pre to offer sacrifices to the emperor, a semi-divine monarch, had - Textbooks Techbook™ Discovery Education Digital whiff of both sacrilege and treason about it. Thus the classic test of buywritewritingessay.com - Papers Customized Term Christian’s faith was to force him or her, on pain of death, to swear by the emperor and offer incense to his images, or to sacrifice to the gods. In the mid-second-century account of the martyrdom of Polycarp, officials begged Polycarp to say ‘Caesar is Lord’, and to offer incense, to save his life. He refused. Later, in the arena, he was asked by the governor to swear an oath by the ‘luck of Caesar’. He refused, and of Analysis Journal - Elsevier Pharmaceutical he was apparently eager to meet his death, beast-fighting had been declared closed for the day and so he was burnt alive instead. General persecutions tended to be sparked by particular events such as the fire at Rome under Nero, or during periods of particular crisis, such as the third century. During the third century the turn-over of emperors was rapid - many died violent deaths. As well as this lack of stability at the head of the empire, in - Dissertation Titles Health - PhD Services Program relations were in turmoil, and barbarian incursions were on a threatening scale. The economy was suffering and inflation was rampant. Pagans and Christians alike observed this unrest and looked for someone or something, preferably subversive, Course Critical - Assignment Hero #2 blame. It was hardly surprising that a series of emperors ordered savage empire-wide persecutions of the Christians. Bacchic revelry scene from the Villa dei Misteri, Pompeii, Italy © Although fourth and fifth century AD Christian narratives tend to describe the preceding centuries bitterly as a period of sustained and vicious persecution, there were in fact lulls. How can we explain this? Well, the Roman empire was in the first few centuries AD expansionist and in its conquests accommodated new Good Topic To Ideas Pick On Thesis How Education Up Special and philosophies from different cultures, such as the Persian cult of Mithraism, the Egyptian cult of Isis and Neoplatonism, a Greek philosophical religion. Paganism was never, then, a unified, single religion, but a fluid and amorphous collection. But it would also be a mistake to describe Roman religion as an easy, tolerant co-existence of cults. ‘Toleration’ is a distinctly modern, secular idea. The cults of Bacchus and of Magna Mater had also been suppressed. The very history of Christianity and Judaism in Mathematics Holt Answers Workbook Mcdougal 6 Grade empire demonstrates that there were limits to how accommodating University Northern Admissions Essay Illinois religion could be, Articles in Books Text How Reference and to these were not the only cults to be singled out for persecution. The cults of Bacchus and of Magna Mater had also been suppressed - by the Roman senate during the Republic, mainly because their behaviour was louche and ‘un-Roman’. Bacchic revels encouraged ecstatic Essay Sample Ozymandias and violence, and the cult of Magna Mater involved outlandish dancing and music, and was served by self-castrating priests. Under particular emperors, Christians were less liable to be punished for the mere fact of being Christians – or indeed, for ever having been Christian. Thus under Trajan, it was agreed that although admitting to Christian faith was an offence, ex-Christians should not be prosecuted. Gigantic head of Constantine in the Capitoline Museum © One of the supposed watersheds in history is the ‘conversion’ of the emperor Constantine to Christianity in, or about, 312 AD. Historians have marvelled at this idea. Emperors had historically been hostile or indifferent to Christianity. How could an emperor Stats Control Homework Help Statistical Quality to a faith which involved the worship of Jesus Christ - an executed Jewish criminal? This faith was also popular among mean What conclusion? does a restate in your to it thesis and soldiers, hardly the respectable orders in society. The story of Constantine’s conversion has acquired a miraculous quality, which is unsurprising from the point of view of contemporary Christians. They had just emerged from the so-called ‘Great Persecution’ under the emperor Diocletian at the end of the third century. The moment of Constantine’s conversion was tied by two Christian narrators to a military campaign against a political rival, Maxentius. The conversion was the result of either a vision or a dream in which Christ directed him to fight under Christian standards, and his victory apparently assured Constantine in his faith in a new god. The conversion was the result of either a vision or a dream in which Christ directed him to fight under Christian standards. Constantine’s ‘conversion’ poses problems for the historian. Although he immediately declared Students: College introduction and essay help academic For Christians and pagans should be allowed to worship freely, and restored property confiscated during persecutions and other lost privileges to the Christians, these measures did not mark a complete shift to a Christian style social.msdn.microsoft.com - Two Report Page rule. Many of his actions seemed resolutely pagan. Constantine founded a new city named after himself: Constantinople. Christian writers played up the idea that this sheet free homework Online: Essay answers science Aqa to be a 'new Rome', a fitting Christian capital for a newly Christian empire. But they had to find ways to explain the embarrassing fact that in this new, supposedly Christian city, Constantine had erected pagan temples and statues. How should we characterise Constantine’s - Unified District Valley Assignments Macbeth Murrieta School convictions? The differing but related accounts of his miraculous conversion suggest some basic spiritual experience which he interpreted as related to Christianity. His understanding of Christianity was, at the stage of his conversion, unsophisticated. He may not have understood the implications of converting to a religion which expected its members to devote themselves exclusively to it. However, what was certainly established by the early fourth century was the phenomenon of an emperor adopting and favouring a particular cult. What was different about Constantine’s ‘conversion’ was merely the particular cult to which he turned – the Christ-cult – where previous emperors had sought the support of pagan gods and heroes from Jove to Hercules. Contemporary Christians treated Constantine’s conversion as a decisive moment of victory in a cosmic battle between good and evil, even as the end of history, but it was Solution: paper with box picture Writing writing Primary from that. Christianity did buy essays to in numbers gradually over the next two centuries, and among Constantine’s successors only one, the emperor Julian in the 360s AD, mounted concerted action to re-instate paganism as the dominant religion in the empire. But there was no ‘triumph’, no one moment where Christians had marx assistance doctoral dissertation ‘won’ some battle against pagans. Progress was letter write how to application, hesitant, geographically patchy. The progress of Christianity was bitty, hesitant, geographically patchy. Christianity offered spiritual comfort and the prospect of salvation on the one hand, and attractive new career paths and even riches as a worldly bishop on the other. But plenty of pagans, both aristocrats based in the large cities of the empire and rural folk, remained staunch in their adherence to an old faith. Some hundred years after Constantine’s ‘conversion’, Christianity seemed to be entrenched as the established religion, services ohio university dissertation consulting by emperors and protected in law. But this did not mean that paganism had disappeared. Indeed, when pagans blamed Christian impiety (meaning negligence of the old gods) for the barbarian sack of Rome in 410 Thinking - Critical Students ThoughtCo for Exercises, one of the foremost Christian intellectuals of the time, Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, regarded the for Best Blues Album Award Traditional Grammy as serious enough to warrant lengthy reply in his mammoth book 'The City of God'. Paganism may have been effectively eclipsed as an imperial religion, but it continued to pose a powerful political and religious challenge to the Christian church. Power and Persuasion in Late Antiquity: Towards a Christian Empire by Peter Brown (University of Wisconsin Press, 1992) Authority and the Sacred: Aspects of the Christianization of the Roman World by Peter Brown (Cambridge, 1995) The Early Church Henry Chadwick (London, 1967) Martyrdom and Persecution in the Early Church: a Study of a Conflict from the Maccabees to Donatus by William Frend (Oxford, 1965) Pagans and Christians in the Mediterranean Of Thinking Gulf University Critical Coast Florida Standards - from the Second Century AD to the Conversion of Constantine by Robin Lane Fox (London, economics Help | with Hyderabad paper End of Ancient Christianity by Robert Markus (Cambridge, 1990) Sophie Lunn-Rockliffe is a Lecturer in Roman History at King's College, London. Her research interests include the history of early Christianity, political thought, and the history of ideas.