under Nero in which Paul and Peter were honored at Rome with Martyrdom in
Behalf of Religion
When the government
of Nero was now firmly established, he began to plunge into unholy pursuits,
and armed himself even against the religion of the God of the universe. To
describe the greatness of his depravity does not lie within the plan of the
present work. As there are many indeed that have recorded his history in
most accurate narratives, every one may at his pleasure learn from them the
coarseness of the man's extraordinary madness, under the influence of which,
after he had accomplished the destruction of so many myriads without any
reason, he ran into such blood-guiltiness that he did not spare even his
nearest relatives and dearest friends, but destroyed his mother and his brothers
and his wife, with very many others of his own family as he would private
and public enemies, with various kinds of deaths.
But with all these things this particular in the catalogue of his crimes
was still wanting, that he was the first of the emperors who showed himself
an enemy of the divine religion. The Roman Tertullian is likewise a witness
of this. He writes as follows: "Examine your records. There you will find
that Nero was the first that persecuted this doctrine, particularly then
when after subduing all the east, he exercised his cruelty against all at
Rome. We glory in having such a man the leader in our punishment. For whoever
knows him can understand that nothing was condemned by Nero unless it was
something of great excellence."
Thus publicly announcing himself as the first among God's chief enemies,
he was led on to the slaughter of the apostles.
It is, therefore, recorded that Paul was beheaded in Rome itself, and that
Peter likewise was crucified under Nero. This account of Peter and Paul is
substantiated by the fact that their names are preserved in the cemeteries
of that place even to the present day.
It is confirmed likewise by Caius, a member of the Church, who arose under
Zephyrinus, bishop of Rome. He, in a published disputation with Proclus,
the leader of the Phrygian heresy, speaks as follows concerning the places
where the sacred corpses of the aforesaid apostles are laid: "But I can show
the trophies of the apostles. For if you will go to the Vatican or to the
Ostian way, you will find the trophies of those who laid the foundations
of this church."
And that they both suffered martyrdom at the same time is stated by Dionysius,
bishop of Corinth, in his epistle to the Romans, in the following words:
"You have thus by such an admonition bound together the planting of Peter
and of Paul at Rome and Corinth. For both of them planted and likewise taught
us in our Corinth. And they taught together in like manner in Italy, and
suffered martyrdom at the same time."
I have quoted these things in order that the truth of the history might be
still more confirmed.