Minor where the Christians were strongest. For the next thirty years we gather that they did 'suffer for the name' (1 Pet 4:12-16) and, by the end of the century, intense popular ill feeling in the province of Asia was manifesting itself towards them, which resulted in persecution and martyrdom (Rev 6:9), but there was no further documented state intervention against Christians until near the end of the reign of Domitian (81-96 ce).
This emperor was a not unsuccessful soldier and administrator, but was cursed by a deeply suspicious nature that saw philosophers and, towards the end of his reign, members of the aristocracy as his enemies. 'Master and god'12 were the titles by which he expected to be known. On the other hand, like Vespasian (69-79 ce) before him, he had a vision of the unity of the empire chacterised by urbanisation and romanisation, and consolidated, especially in the eastern provinces, through the cult of Roma and the emperor.13 While Tacitus describes how temples and fora were being built in the towns of Britain,14 in the provinces of Asia, statues and temples in honour of the emperor were characteristic of Ephesus, Laodicea, Smyrna and Pergamum, where the Council of Asia (koinon tes Asias) met and games in the emperor's honour were celebrated.15
In these circumstances, religious non-conformity would not be tolerated. Jews might be accepted on payment of two denarii a year to the treasury (the fiscus iudaicus), but not their imitators. Dio Cassius relates how, in 95 ce, the emperor's cousin, Flavius Clemens, and his wife, the emperor's niece, Flavia Domitilla, were charged with 'atheism' (being atheotai). Clemens was executed; his wife exiled to the island of Pandataria. Other aristocrats were accused of 'falling away into Jewish customs', and the penalty was either execution or confiscation of property.16 The consul, Acilius Glabrio, was charged in addition with 'having revolutionary aims' (molitor rerum novarum).17 While nothing should be deduced from the fact that the catacomb of Domitilla was in Christian possession by the third century,18 'atheism' was the term applied to Christianity at Smyrna in 156 (see below). The aristocrats punished by Domitian had appeared to reject the Roman gods; as they were not Jews, they put themselves outside the protection of the law. Tertullian regarded
15 See Charlesworth, 'Flavian dynasty', 39-40 and footnotes.
16 Dio Cassius 67.14.2; Suet. Dom. 15. For an account of the incident, see Streeter, 'Rise of Christianity', 254-5.
18 Lampe, Paul to Valentinus, 206.
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