Domitian and the Christians
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Domitian and the Christians

After the Great Fire of Rome in 64 AD, we don't hear anything definite about the Christians for forty years until the reign of the Roman Emperor Trajan, about 100 AD.

But during the reign of the Emperor Domitian, in the 90s AD, some people at court were killed for being "atheists", which means not believing in the gods. Suetonius does not use the word Christian, but to a Roman maybe the Christians seemed to not believe in the gods (after all they didn't believe in the Roman gods). One of the people killed was named Stephen, which is a Christian name.

The main thing we can gather from this information is that apparently Christianity itself was not yet illegal at this time, but nobody really knows whether Domitian ever killed people for being Christians or not.

Bibliography and further reading about Domitian and the Christians:

More about Domitian
Pliny and Trajan
Main Christianity page
Main religion page


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Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
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