He that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the Word and anon with joy receiveth it; yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while; for, when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the Word, by and by he is offended.—Matt. xiii. 20–1.
Of all the challenges that are encountered by the sower of the seed the challenge of persecution is the one to which the followers of the higher religions have succeeded in responding with the greatest measure of success. Though, in all persecutions, there are, no doubt, always many weaker vessels who do fail to stand the ordeal, the followers of the higher religions have been conspicuous, on the whole, for their steadfastness and courage when put to the test.
The Christian Church was put to this test by the Roman Empire; the Mahāyāna by the Chinese Empire in its avatar in the age of the T’ang Dynasty. Both churches responded by producing martyrs; but the Christians in the Roman Empire seem to have been more steadfast than the Mahayanian Buddhists in China in standing a more severe ordeal; and this apparent pre-eminence of the Christians in a common heroism is, indeed, what was to be expected. We should expect both the Mahāyāna and Christianity to shine in facing persecution, since the distinguishing mark of the higher religions is, as we have seen, their voluntary acceptance of Suffering as an opportunity for active service. At the same time we should expect the persecution itself to be sharper, and the endurance of it more heroic, in the western than in the eastern half of the Old World because the temper of life in South-West Asia and in the Graeco-Roman Society was more tragic and more intransigent than the temper in either India or China. In appraising both the comparative mildness of the T’ang imperial government and the comparative softness of its Buddhist victims, we must make due allowance for this general difference in psychological climate. It would be unwarrantable to assume that the T’ang régime was more virtuous than the Roman régime was, or that the Buddhist martyrs were less heroic than the Christian martyrs were.
The same difference in temper between the two halves of the Old World comes out in other historical parallels as well. For example, Christianity and Buddhism were, each, expelled from its homeland by a rival younger religion which had derived its inspiration from the older religion that it was opposing and evicting. Christianity was expelled from South-West Asia by Islam; Buddhism was expelled from India by a post-Buddhaic Hinduism whose philosophy bears indelible marks of its Buddhist origin. But the advance of Hinduism at Buddhism’s expense in India in the age of the Gupta Dynasty was accomplished as peacefully as the previous advance of Buddhism at the expense of a pre-Buddhist Indian paganism in the age of the Maurya Emperor Açoka. By contrast with this Indian record, the supplanting of Christianity by Islam in South-West Asia and Egypt in the age of the Arab Caliphate was a story of pressure and penalization—though, by contrast with the treatment of subject Jews and Muslims in Christendom, the treatment of subject ‘People of the Book’ in Dār-al-Islām has been honourably distinguished by its comparative tolerance.
When a higher religion of either family—the Judaic or the Buddhaic—comes into collision with an oecumenical empire, the conflict is of momentous importance. In an oecumenical empire, a higher religion is meeting its most formidable adversary—Man’s worship of collective human power—in its least maleficent and least unedifying form. As an object of worship, an idolized oecumenical empire shines out against the foil of its fallen predecessors the parochial states in an antecedent time of troubles. In contrast to these fallen idols, as well as to a nascent Judaic higher religion, an oecumenical empire brings, not the sword, but peace.2 It is a régime under which, on the whole, the best elements of a dominant minority are in command; for the public spirit of its professional civil service and professional army counts for much more, in its effect on the lives of its subjects, than the personal unworthiness of individual emperors. In the third place an oecumenical empire is the antithesis of the fallen parochial states and the forerunner of the nascent higher religions in standing for the ideal of the unity and brotherhood of all Mankind. This remote oecumenical collective human idol may not be capable of evoking such warm positive devotion as the familiar parochial idols—a Sparta or an Athens, a Judah or a Tyre, an Assyria or a Babylonia, a Ts’i or a Ch’u; but, nevertheless, any threat to an oecumenical empire’s stability, security, and survival will arouse alarm and opposition, not only among the dominant minority, but among the masses as well.
An intuition that Christianity did threaten the stability of the Roman Empire does not, perhaps, account for the original persecution of Christianity by Nero, since Nero was manifestly seeking a scapegoat for personal odium incurred through personal misconduct. But it does account for the subsequent retention of this proscription on the statute book, through the reigns of ‘the virtuous emperors’ from Nerva to Marcus inclusive, until its repeal in A.D. 313 by Constantine I and Licinius in Constantine’s Edict of Milan. The Roman authorities would have felt that they had been justified in acting on their intuition regarding Christianity if they had been acquainted with two passages in the Christian Church’s scriptures—Matt. x. 34–7 and Luke xii. 49–53—in which the Founder of the Church is represented as saying that He has come to bring, not peace and unity, but strife and discord. On the Christian side there was an intuition that Man-worship in its oecumenical collective form was the most imposing, attractive, and specious idolatry still in the field, and that therefore the Christian was called upon to show the utmost stalwartness and intransigence in resisting it.
This conflict between the Roman Empire and Christianity, and the feelings animating the two parties to the conflict, are particularly interesting for us in our Western World in the twentieth century of the Christian Era, because a recurrence of the same social and spiritual situation would appear to be one of the alternative possibilities ahead of us in the future course of our own history. In any conceivable event, a rapid political unification of our world, in its turn, seems to be foreshadowed by ‘the annihilation of distance’ and the concomitant increase in the potency of weapons of war which are two closely related achievements of the West’s fast accelerating progress in technology. Our world may be unified, not in a new way, by the agreement for which we hope, but in the old way by the force by which the Graeco-Roman World and most other worlds have, in fact, been unified in the past. In that event, the sufferings that we have experienced in our lifetime would be trifles by comparison with the sufferings, still untasted, which would then overtake us. If a literally world-wide counterpart of a Roman or a Chinese oecumenical empire had to be purchased by us at this traditional enormous price, the cost in suffering would be increased, beyond all past experience, by the unprecedented destructiveness of our latterday weapons of war. We can imagine what our feelings would be if an oecumenical peace and order which had been established at this fearful cost were to be threatened with disruption—a threat to plunge us back into that awful agony which had almost been the end of us—by the rise, in our midst, of some apparently subversive religion. How, for example, would the Christian texts Matt. x. 34–7 and Luke xii. 49–53 strike us if the Communists were to quote them as slogans for the Marxian ‘class war’, taking a leaf out of the book of those Christian propagandists in the Roman Empire who used to quote Greek poets as witnesses to the truth of Christian beliefs and to the righteousness of Christian ideals?
The religious issue between the Christian Church and the Roman Empire, like that between Socrates and Athens, was sharply defined—and this for the same reason. Like Socrates, the Christians behaved as good citizens in fulfilling all civic duties that were not vetoed by their conscience. Notwithstanding the Roman imperial authorities’ standing proscription of Christianity, and notwithstanding the inclusion in the Gospels of revolutionary texts like those cited, the Christians were, in practice, law-abiding subjects of the oecumenical empire in all ordinary matters of everyday life. In this normal practice they were acting on other texts in the Gospels which went to great lengths in inculcating obedience to the established political régime. ‘Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s’3 is an injunction to pay taxes; and in Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Romans4 there is an injunction to obey the law in all things, and this on three grounds: ‘There is no power but of God; the powers that be are ordained of God; whosoever, therefore, resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God.’
If the Roman imperial authorities had been aware of this passage in a letter from a far-ranging Christian missionary to his converts in the metropolis, their feelings would have been mixed. They would have felt that their Christian subjects’ private code of conduct told them to do the right thing for the wrong reason. It was right, of course, to tell them to obey the Government, but wrong to give them this directive on the ground that ‘the powers that be are ordained of God.’ For, if the ultimate authority is a god who is not the Oecumenical Community itself and is not even the Oecumenical Government’s nominee, but is the freely chosen god of a private society, then this paramount God who tells His worshippers today to obey the Government may tell them tomorrow to disobey it. The right reason for obeying the Government is because the State is, not ordained of God, but identical with God or alternatively master of Him.
This issue did not arise over conflicting attitudes towards military service, though there was a potential occasion for conflict here. There had never been any explicit remission of the duty to serve which had been incumbent on all citizens in the parochial Roman State out of which the oecumenical Roman Empire had arisen, and on the other hand the Christian had a conscientious objection to shedding blood in war and therefore to serving in the Army. This tension between conscience and civic duty had not entered into the issue between Athens and Socrates, since Socrates had had no conscientious objection to military service and had, in fact, performed his own service manfully. In practice, however, this potential occasion for conflict between the Roman Empire and the Christian Church caused little trouble, because in practice the post-Augustan Roman Army, in contrast to the pre-Marian Roman Army, was a professional force recruited by voluntary enlistment, and the recruiting-grounds of the Army and the Church lay in different quarters. The Army recruited mainly from the ex-barbarian peasantry in the frontier provinces of the Empire, the Church mainly from the urban population in the cities of the interior. There were contemporary higher religions that, unlike Christianity, did find their mission-field in the Army’s main recruiting-ground, but the two that won most converts there were the worships of Mithras and of Juppiter Dolichênus, and neither of these was opposed in principle to the use of force.
Considering that the Christian code of conduct prescribed obedience to the State, and that the Roman Imperial Government did not, in practice, impose compulsory military service on its citizens, we can see that there was no inevitable occasion for conflict between Church and State on the plane of practical life. The issue over which they did fall into grave conflict with one another was one of principle. The two parties were in accord in feeling that this point of principle was supremely important, and in this consensus they were surely right. The question was whether Caesar himself was God, or whether Caesar was merely the human vicegerent of a One True God whom Caesar had not nominated and did not and could not control. This question whether Man in one or other of his less ungodlike forms is God, or whether the True God is to be found neither in Man or in Non-Human Nature, was, and still is, one of the great issues confronting human souls.
In the tragedy of the conflict between the Christian Church and the Roman Empire there were four dramatis personae: the Dominant Minority of the Graeco-Roman Society; the Roman Imperial Army; the Masses; and the Higher Religions, of which Christianity—the eventual victor—was one.
Under the imperial Roman régime the more respectable elements in the Dominant Minority were, as we have noticed, now in command—in contrast to the situation during the foregoing time of troubles, in which the militarists and profiteers had had a free hand. Those licensed criminals had now been replaced by dutiful civil servants, but these carried out their duties in the unenthusiastic spirit displayed by Seneca’s brother Gallio when he did justice to Saint Paul at Corinth.5 Since the liquidation or subordination of the former parochial states of the Graeco-Roman World, after these had discredited themselves by becoming Molochs, life had lost its savour for the remnant of the former governing class; and, if it had lost it even for Roman oecumenical civil servants, with their immense opportunities (which they did not neglect) for doing constructive work, it must have lost it, a fortiori, for Roman barristers, for Asian men of letters, and even for Athenian artists and for Alexandrian scholars.
Superficially the Roman Empire in the age of the Principate might look like the Hellenic philosophers’ Utopia transposed from a parochial to an oecumenical scale. The Empire was a world-wide federation of city-states, in which every cultivated member of the middle class was a citizen of a parochial as well as an oecumenical community. Down to the eve of the visible collapse in A.D. 235 the number of the city-states within the framework of the Empire was still growing, and even the youngest and the most provincial of them were still being embellished with magnificent public buildings. Yet, long before the system revealed its unsoundness by visibly breaking down, this superstructure of urban life had come to weigh upon the peasantry as an incubus without continuing to benefit the bourgeoisie. It was no longer giving them the stimulus that they had received from the parochial communities in the age before the first breakdown of the Graeco-Roman Civilization in the fifth century B.C. The bourgeoisie, and, above all, the followers of the liberal professions, found life under the Principate dull.
Meanwhile, the Army was, as we have noticed, being recruited in a higher and higher proportion from the ex-barbarian peasantry in the most seriously threatened of the frontier provinces, particularly the Illyrian provinces and Thrace. The Army provided an avenue along which the Graeco-Roman Society could be entered by proselytes whose level of cultivation was still too low for them to be able to enter by acquiring citizenship in even a provincial city-state. These military candidates for civilization were volunteers, and they had a naïve esprit de corps which declared itself in a loyalty to their unit, to the Army as a whole, and eventually to the Graeco-Roman Society itself when, in the third century, they were required to sacrifice themselves in saving the Empire and Society from destruction.
Till the Christian martyrs stepped into the arena, these professional soldiers were distinguished among the population of the Empire by being the only people in it who might be called upon at any moment to lay down their lives in a cause that they felt to be worthy of this supreme personal sacrifice. This staking of their lives on their life-work gave the soldiers a zest for life which was enjoyed by no one else in the Empire till the Christian martyrs made their appearance.
Under the unitary, orderly, and humane oecumenical régime of the Pax Romana, the masses were no longer oppressed to the intolerable degree at which they had broken into their repeated revolts during the foregoing time of troubles. Moreover, the cessation of inter-parochial wars had dried up one of the sources of supply for the slave-trade. Yet, though no longer goaded into insurrection, the masses were still a proletariat in the sense of being in Society without being of it; and, even for the urban proletariat which enjoyed a dole of ‘bread and shows’, the city-state culture was an incubus which cost a high price without giving any proportionate return. The masses were sheep without a shepherd, and their attitude towards the existing state of Society was one of neutrality: they were neither up in arms against it any longer nor loyal to it yet. They were thus a potential recruiting-ground for a new society, if one should present itself as an alternative to the established order. The silent yet menacing presence of this vast enigmatic underworld gave the dominant minority in the Roman Empire a feeling of insecurity and uneasiness such as the underworld in the United States was giving to the dominant minority there in A.D. 1956; and this was one of the grounds of the Imperial Government’s nervousness about Christianity and the other higher religions which were seeping through the population of the Empire from below upwards.
The higher religions were alternative and competitive endeavours to fill the spiritual vacuum which the dullness of life in the Empire had created in the souls of a great majority of its inhabitants. The philosophies (including Astrology) appealed to the sophisticated middle class because they based their practical precepts on intellectual propositions. The worships of Mithras and Juppiter Dolichenus appealed to the Army because these gods stood for the promotion of virtue by militancy. The worships of Isis, Cybele, and other avatars of the Great Mother appealed to the women. Christianity appealed to the masses, and this for three reasons: it treated them, not as proletarians, but as human souls; it showed its consideration for them in a practical way by taking care of the widows and orphans, the sick and the aged, for whom neither the municipal governments of the city-states nor the oecumenical government of the Empire performed any comparable services;6 and it did all this disinterestedly, under the inspiration of Christian ideals, and not with the ulterior aim of recruiting supporters. The most convincing tribute to these works of Christian charity has been paid by Christianity’s thirteenth-hour opponent, the ex-Christian Roman Emperor Julian, in a letter to one of the prelates of his abortive pagan counter-church:
Are we refusing to face the fact that Atheism7 owes its success above all to its philanthropy towards strangers and to its provision for funerals and to its parade of a high puritanical morality?… It is a disgrace to us that our own people should be notoriously going short of assistance from us when in the Jewish community there is not a single beggar, while the impious Galilaeans are supporting not only their own poor but ours as well.
This passage in a letter of Julian’s to Arsaces, the pagan Chief Priest of Galatia, testifies that Christian charity has won pagan hearts. At the same time it exposes the forlomness of the anti-Christian Emperor’s hope of being able to counteract the moral effect of this expression of the Christian spirit by a forced pagan imitation of spontaneous Christian practice.
Julian was, in fact, setting himself the unpromising task of trying to re-open an issue that had, in truth, been settled already before ever he was raised on the shield at Paris. By that time, Christianity had already won decisive victories on two fronts: over all the other higher religions that were in competition with it in the western half of the Hellenic World8 and over the Roman Imperial Government. In so far as this double victory can be accounted for by the effect that Christianity made upon the hearts and minds of the men and women to whom it was addressing itself, it can be ascribed to two causes which have been mentioned already. The Christian Church won the hearts of the masses because it did more for the masses than was done for them by any of the rival higher religions or by either the imperial or the municipal public authorities; and the Christians were the only people in the Roman Empire, except the professional soldiers, who were prepared to lay down their lives for the sake of an ideal.
The affinity, on this crucial point, between the Christian spirit and the military spirit was recognized and proclaimed by the early leaders of the Christian Church in exhortations to their followers in which they commended to them the Roman military virtues. For, though they had a conscientious objection to the shedding of blood, to which, in the Army, these virtues were dedicated, they admired the reverse side of the soldier’s professional performance: his readiness to sacrifice his own life in the act of taking his adversary’s life, and the discipline and devotion through which he prepared himself for rising to this height of self-abnegation. The note struck in the Epistle to the Ephesians, vi. 10–17, was followed up by the Early Fathers of the Church from Clement and Ignatius to Tertullian inclusive.
We ought to take to heart the discipline and the self-surrender with which the soldiers in the service of our rulers carry out their instructions. They cannot all be legates, tribunes, centurions, optiones, or officers of other grades, but each of them in his own appointed post carries out the orders of the Emperor and the rulers.9
Take care to give satisfaction to the sovereign whose soldiers you are and from whom you draw your pay.… Take care that none of you shall be convicted of being a deserter.… Think of your works as being your deposits, and then you will exert yourselves to see that the receipts that you draw against these shall be on the scale that you would wish.10
The Roman Army’s code of military honour thus played its part in the inspiration of the Christian martyrs; but the martyr’s self-sacrifice made a greater impression than the soldier’s, and this for several reasons. In the first place, the soldiers performed their heroic actions on remote frontiers where there was no public to see them, while the Christians performed theirs in the full light of publicity in the amphitheatres of the principal cities in the interior of the Graeco-Roman World. In the second place, the soldiers were recruited from still warlike ex-barbarian rural populations, whose old-fashioned bravery was taken for granted, whereas the Christians were recruited from urban populations that had long since become maturely civilized and were no longer warlike. The unconverted members of this class were not at all prone to display either courage or idealism; so the moral effect of conversion, as demonstrated in the Christian martyrs, was something startling. In the third place the soldiers’ heroism, while genuine, was at the same time virtually obligatory. Their enlistment in the Army was their last voluntary act. When once they had enlisted, they had no choice as to how they should behave. It they had flinched from giving their lives on the battlefield, they would have been condemned to death by court-martial, after having been execrated by their companions in arms, for having failed to do their military duty. Thus they would have forfeited their lives all the same, but have lost them in disgrace instead of giving them with honour. By contrast, the Christians were usually offered, by the civil magistrates, the maximum opportunity of avoiding the death-sentence with a minimum loss of face.
Policy, as well as humanity, moved the magistrate to save the life of the Christian prisoner before his tribunal if he could persuade the prisoner to co-operate with him to the extent required; for the magistrate was as well aware as the prisoner was that the martyr’s blood was seed.11 But, if, perhaps just for this reason, the prisoner was determined to become a martyr, he had it in his power to force the magistrate’s hand, since the magistrate’s attitude was as illogical as it was politic and humane. It was, as we have observed, the common view of the two parties that a point of principle, and this one of capital importance, was at stake in the question whether the Christians should or should not acknowledge the divinity of Rome and of Caesar. Therefore, in the last resort, the Roman magistrate was bound to pass sentence of death on any Christian who refused to make this acknowledgment by performing a symbolic outward visible act of worship. The magistrate’s usual tactics were to press the prisoner to clear himself by performing the rite, on the ground that this was only a formality; and it was here that the magistrate was not on strong ground. For, if the rite was really no more than a formality after all, why should not the State waive its demand for the performance of it, instead of insisting on punishing a refusal with death? Though the Imperial Government had taken the offensive against the Christian Church in its general proscription of Christianity from the reign of Nero onwards, in the prosecutions of individual Christians the prisoners seem to have taken the offensive more often than the magistrates. Would-be martyrs insisted on forcing the issue and deliberately made it impossible for the magistrate to avoid imposing the death-penalty.
Among the innumerable human beings who have laid down their lives in a cause, the martyrs to a belief in the truth and value of the higher religions are the only people, so far, who have made this sacrifice for the sake of a god who has not been some form of collective human power, either oecumenical or parochial. Most voluntary acts of self-sacrifice have been made on the battlefield on behalf of some deified state; but the Christian martyrs under the Roman Empire were neither the first nor the last of their kind. The first, perhaps, were the Jewish martyrs who suffered under the Seleucid Monarchy in 167 B.C.; and, since the repeal of the proscription of Christianity in the Roman Empire in A.D. 313, there have been other Christian martyrs—for example, those Roman Catholic Christian missionaries and their converts who suffered in Japan and in China in the Early Modern Age of Western history. The Jews have continued to suffer martyrdom at many times and places, and the Muslims have suffered it under a Mongol world-empire, as well as the Chinese Mahayanian Buddhists under the T’ang Dynasty. The voluntary laying-down of life, not in the service of an idolized state, but for the sake of the God or Absolute Reality that is revealed in the higher religions, has, in fact, never died out since it first began.
This epiphany of the martyrs is a portent. Considering the innate savagery of Human Nature and the perpetual proneness of Original Sin to break out of the control under which we strive half-heartedly to bring it, we cannot foresee a time when human beings will no longer be challenged to give their lives in a cause. But we can, perhaps, foresee a time when Mankind will have rid itself of the institution of War, as it has already rid itself of the institution of Slavery; and, if and when self-sacrifice on the battlefield thus ceases to be a possibility, then martyrdom may come to be the only way in which it will still be open to men and women to offer their lives up. Thus the situation in the Roman Empire from A.D. 63 to A.D. 313, and in the Chinese Empire at times during the ninth century of the Christian Era, might be prophetic of a future that, in A.D. 1956, was still beyond Mankind’s horizon.
The uncommon case of a Christian civilian becoming a martyr through refusing to submit to being conscripted into the Army has to be distinguished from the slightly less rare cases of Christian soldiers becoming martyrs through finding that their religious scruples clashed with their military duty. In this second category we have to distinguish, again, between soldiers converted to Christianity after enlistment and Christians who had already been members of the Church before they had voluntarily joined the Army.
The conscript-martyr Maximilianus of Theveste was called up for compulsory enrolment in the Army because he was in the exceptional position of being the son of a veteran. Maximilianus’s father, Fabius Victor, was also a Christian; but we do not know whether he had already been one while in the Army or had been converted after his discharge.
In the consulate of Tuscus and Anulinus, on the 12th March [A.D. 295], at Theveste, Fabius Victor, together with Maximilianus, was brought into court. Pompeianus, Advocate of the Fisc, was called. Pompeianus said: ‘Fabius Victor is employed in the commutation office of the provincial administration at Caesarea. Victor is present with the fit recruit Maximilianus, Victor’s son. Maximilianus is a qualified recruit, so I ask the court to have him measured.’ Dion, the Proconsul, to Maximilianus: ‘What is your name?’ Maximilianus: ‘Now, why do you want to know my name? I have a conscientious objection to military service: I am a Christian.’ The Proconsul: ‘Equip him.’ While he was being equipped, Maximilianus answered: ‘I can’t serve; I can’t sin against my conscience; I am a Christian.’ The Proconsul: ‘Take his measure.’ His measure was taken and was reported by the sergeant-at-arms as being five foot, ten inches. The Proconsul to the Sergeant-at-arms: ‘Have him sealed.’ Maximilianus offered resistance, and answered: ‘I won’t do it; I can’t serve.’ The Proconsul: ‘Serve, or you will lose your life.’ Maximilianus: ‘I won’t serve. You may behead me, but I won’t serve the powers of This World; I will serve my God.’ (Original Latin text in Knopf, D. R., and Krüger, G., Ausgewälte Martyrerakten, 3rd edition (Tübingen 1929, Mohr), pp. 86–7; Harnack, A., Militia Christi (Tübingen 1905, Mohr), pp. 114–17. The case of Maximilianus is discussed in Harnack, op. cit., pp. 84–5.)
The following are examples of martyrs who suffered, not for refusing to serve, but for refusing, when already in the service, to perform some military duty that they could not reconcile with their Christian conscience.
Tertullian’s De Coronâ deals with the case of a Christian soldier who was martyred for refusing to wear, at a parade, a laurel crown which was part of the regulation dress for this occasion, but which, in the Christian soldier’s eyes, was a badge of paganism which he could not assume without being untrue to his Christian faith (see Harnack, op. cit., pp. 61–9).
The Christian centurion Marcellus was martyred for refusing to perform his military duty of playing his part in the celebration of the Emperor’s birthday (text of his acta in Knopf and Krüger, op. cit., pp. 87–9; Harnack, op. cit., pp. 117–19).
The Christian soldier Dasius was martyred on the 23rd November 303, at Durostorum, for refusing to play the part, for which he had been designated, of mock king in a Saturnalia play that was to be performed by soldiers of his unit (text of his acta in Knopf and Krüger, op. cit., pp. 91–5).
The subject of this chapter has been dealt with in greater detail by the writer in A Study of History, vol. v, pp. 581–7, 646–712; vol. vii, pp. 95–108, 158–63, 188–93; 237–9, 338–44, 692–700.
An inversion of Matt. x. 34.
Matt. xxii. 21.
Rom. xiii. 1–7.
See Acts xviii. 17.
The Imperial Government did have to its credit, in the Alimenta Italiae, one social service which was a monument of enlightened, constructive, and skilfully planned administration (see Hirschfeld, O., Die Kaiserlichen Verwaltungsbeamten (Berlin 1905, Weidman), pp. 212–24). These appear to have been initiated by Nerva, launched by Trajan, and multiplied by Trajan’s successors down to Marcus inclusive. Capital derived from funds at the Emperor’s disposal was lent at low rates of interest to Italian farmers, and the interest was spent on financing the marriages of young people who were too poor to be able to set up house without financial assistance. The institution thus served the double purpose of fostering agriculture and promoting the increase of population. The Alimenta seem, however, to have been confined to Italy, and, in the recurrence of troubles after the death of Marcus, they were wiped out by the great inflation in the third century of the Christian Era.
i.e. Christianity, which Julian calls by this reproachful name in allusion to Christianity’s rejection of the gods of the Graeco-Roman Pantheon.
In the eastern half of the Hellenic World the victor in Hindustan and the Oxus-Jaxartes Basin was the Mahāyāna, while the victor in Iran was Zoroastrianism.
The First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians, 37.
Ignatius’s Epistle to Polycarp, 6.
‘Semen est sanguis Christianorum’—Tertullian, Apologeticus, chap. 50.