The Second Persecution Under Domitian A D 81
The emperor Domitian, who was naturally inclined to cruelty, first slew
his brother, and then raised the second persecution against the
christians. In his rage he put to death some of the Roman senators, some
through malice; and others to confiscate their estates. He then
commanded all the lineage of David to be put to death.
Among the numerous martyrs that suffered during this persecution was
Simeon, bishop of Jerusalem, who was crucified; and St. John, who was
boiled in oil, and afterward banished to Patmos. Flavia, the daughter of
a Roman senator, was likewise banished to Pontus; and a law was made,
"That no christian, once brought before the tribunal, should be exempted
from punishment without renouncing his religion."
A variety of fabricated tales were, during this reign, composed in order
to injure the christians. Such was the infatuation of the pagans, that,
if famine, pestilence, or earthquakes afflicted any of the Roman
provinces, it was laid upon the christians. These persecutions among the
christians increased the number of informers and many, for the sake of
gain, swore away the lives of the innocent.
Another hardship was, that, when any christians were brought before the
magistrates, a test oath was proposed, when, if they refused to take it,
death was pronounced against them; and if they confessed themselves
christians, the sentence was the same.
The following were the most remarkable among the numerous martyrs who
suffered during this persecution.
Dionysius, the Areopagite, was an Athenian by birth, and educated in all
the useful and ornamental literature of Greece. He then travelled to
Egypt to study astronomy, and made very particular observations on the
great and supernatural eclipse, which happened at the time of our
The sanctity of his conversation, and the purity of his manners,
recommended him so strongly to the christians in general, that he was
appointed bishop of Athens.
Nicodemus, a benevolent christian of some distinction, suffered at Rome
during the rage of Domitian's persecution.
Protasius and Gervasius were martyred at Milan.
Timothy was the celebrated disciple of St. Paul, and bishop of Ephesus,
where he zealously governed the church till A. D. 97. At this period, as
the pagans were about to celebrate a feast called Catagogion, Timothy,
meeting the procession, severely reproved them for their ridiculous
idolatry, which so exasperated the people, that they fell upon him with
their clubs, and beat him in so dreadful a manner, that he expired of
the bruises two days after.
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