The Christians and the Great Fire of Rome

The Christian Scapegoats and the Great Fire of Rome. It wasn't long before Nero arrived to bring order to the chaos. A rumor had gone forth which accused Nero of starting the fire himself, and had even sang a song from his Palace tower as he watched the flames engulf the city. Nero had also planned in detail for the cities reconstruction but the rumors continued. Nero had to find a way to "suppress this rumor" according to Tacitus. Nero chose the new secret religious sect of the Christians as his scapegoats and punished them severely. They were arrested throughout the empire and "their deaths were made farcical." Nero took pleasure in the Christian persecutions and even offered many of them upon stakes to be burned to death as torches for his parties. According to history many of them were hunted down and tortured, some were sewn into skins of animals and fed to starving dogs while the mob cheered. Even the historian Tacitus, who did not like Christians, objected to the way Nero had made scapegoats of them. The persecution of the Christians under Nero revealed the growing resentment the people had toward the early church. It also revealed that 20 years after the reign of Claudius, the Christians in Rome had become recognized as a distinct group, separate from the Jews.

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