Historia del conflicto religioso en Roma. Marco Aurelio y los cristianos
History of religious conflict in Rome. Marcus Aurelius and the christians
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AuthorSánchez de Mayo, Pablo
Abstract: The aim of this Undergraduate Thesis Project is to study the Emperor Marcus Aurelius’ attitude towards the Christians (161-180 AD). Persecutions during the first two centuries of the Roman Empire is a much discussed topic, as well as it is Marcus Aurelius’ policy about the Christians. Did Marcus Aurelius, the philosopher king, take into practice his Stoic and pacifist ideas as expressed in his Meditations or did he act in this respect according to the practical principles of his predecessors? Did he introduce any change with respect to his predecessors’ policy towards the Christians? These are the essential questions that this study attempts to answer. Ancient sources and modern historiography give different opinions about it. It is true that persecutions increased under Marcus Aurelius’ reign as our sources, in particular the apologist and the Acts of the Martyrs, show. While some of them consider Marcus Aurelius as a persecutor, others excuse him from any responsibility. The conclusion of this study is that Marcus Aurelius did not change his predecessors’ policy towards the Christians: he did not order a general persecution and most likely he never wrote general regulations against them. The sources prove that “persecutions” –if this word can be used in this contextresponded to specific cases, moments and places. The processes undertaken against the Christians, as it can be seen in the Acts of the Martyrs, were the same as those applied by his predecessor emperors, like Trajan or Hadrian. On the other hand, it is not possible to know Marcus Aurelius’ opinion about the Christians since he only mentions them once in his Meditations, and his words are not easy to interpret.