Pliny and Trajan Letters 119B

Pliny and Trajan Letters 119B - From Andrea Alfred J and...

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From: Andrea, Alfred J., and  James H. Overfield eds. The Human Record: Sources for Global  History. 5 th  ed. Vol. 1, pages 204-206 Faith,Devotion, and Salvation Rome's Policy toward Christians 47•Pliny the Younger and Trajan, LETTERS REGARDING CHRISTIANS Despite a general attitude that Christians were an unsavory lot and deserved whatever sanctions were  laid upon them, before the middle of the third century the Roman state was reluctant to prosecute  Christians too vigorously. The following exchange  of  letters around the year 112 between Pliny the Younger  (61/62—ca. 114), imperial deputy in Bithynia and Pontus, provinces that stretched  along  the Black Sea  coast of Anatolia (modern Asiatic Turkey), and Emperor Trajan (r. 98-117) reveals the empire's attitude  and policy toward Christians during the second-century  Pax Romana,  or Roman Peace. If Pliny's name strikes a chord in your memory, it is because he was the nephew, namesake, and adopted  son of Pliny the Elder (source 36). PLINY TO EMPEROR TRAJAN It is my inviolable rule, my Lord, to refer all uncertain  matters to you. For who is better able to guide  my uncertainty or instruct  me  in my ignorance? I  never   was   present   at   the   trials   of  Christians.  Therefore, I am unacquainted with what is cus- tomary as to the method and extent of punishing  and examining them. I am more than just a little  uncertain  on several points: Whether any dis  crimination   is   made   for   age;   whether   the  weak  are treated differently from the stronger;  whether repentance earns a pardon; or whether,  if someone was ever a Christian, his ceasing  to be one does not gain him anything; whether  the   very   name   [of   Christian)   itself   is  punishable,  even  when it is not associated with any  crimes;   or  whether   crimes,   which   are 
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This note was uploaded on 09/08/2010 for the course HUM 119B at San Jose State.

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Pliny and Trajan Letters 119B - From Andrea Alfred J and...

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