Persecution under Nero in which Paul and Peter were honored at Rome
with Martyrdom in Behalf of Religion
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
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.