Governor Pliny the Youthful’s Letter to Emperor Trajan :
As you might be conscious, it’s my behavior to ask you for recommendation when I’m doubtful about something, for who is healthier positioned to enhance my procedures or treatment my ignorance than you might be? I’ve by no means beforehand taken half within the interrogation of Christians, so I don’t know what questions interrogators used to ask them, nor what they had been punished for, nor how severely they had been punished. I’ve many doubts on this topic, for I have no idea whether or not a distinction needs to be made between folks of various ages, whether or not youngsters needs to be punished as severely as grown males, whether or not folks needs to be pardoned in the event that they repent their Christianity, whether or not individuals who had been Christians however have left their faith needs to be handled extra gently than those that haven’t, or whether or not folks needs to be punished merely for being Christian, with out committing another crime.-
I usually ask for recommendation when I’m not satisfied about something. As an example, I’ve by no means been a part of the interrogation of Christians, and I have no idea what questions they requested them, and the way they had been punished. I even have many doubts about this topic.
Whereas awaiting your directions, that is what I’ve performed with individuals who have been introduced earlier than me and accused of being Christian. First, I requested them whether or not they had been, actually, Christian. In the event that they mentioned sure, I requested them a second and a 3rd time, mixing threats with questions. In the event that they repeated their confessions, I ordered their execution, for I believed that it doesn’t matter what kind their confessions took, their positiveness and stubbornness deserved punishment. I paid explicit consideration to some members of this insane cult who had been Roman residents, so that they could possibly be despatched to Rome.
After a while, as is regular in such instances, the crime unfold and lots of extra instances had been introduced earlier than me. An nameless letter was despatched to me containing the names of many individuals the author accused of being Christian. Many of those folks denied being Christian now, or that they ever had been. They known as upon the gods and prayed to your statue, which I had had introduced in for that function, with frankincense and wine, they usually additionally cursed Christ. As you might be conscious, no actual Christian will do any of this stuff, so I assumed it was finest to launch them. Different individuals who had been accused of being Christian within the nameless letter mentioned that they had been Christian, however then denied it, or admitted that that they had been Christian however had stopped three or extra years earlier. There was one one that mentioned he not been a Christian for twenty years. All of those folks worshipped your statue, and the statues of our gods, they usually additionally cursed Christ.
Nevertheless, they advised me that their fundamental crime, or mistake, was this: that they had been within the behavior of assembly collectively on a selected day earlier than dawn, and singing a hymn to Christ, as if he had been a god, and requiring themselves by a sacrament or oath to not do something evil, however to commit no theft or theft, nor adultery, to not break their guarantees nor to refuse to return something that had been deposited with them. After this it was their behavior to go away and to fulfill once more at a typical however harmless meal. They’d stopped doing this after the order which I revealed at your command, and by which I had forbidden any such conferences. These interrogations made me assume it was essential to find the reality by torture, so I had two younger maidservants who’re known as deaconesses tortured, however the one factor I realized is that they had been hooked on a foul and indulgent superstition.
After this I made a decision to place off any additional interrogations and ask on your recommendation and directions, as a result of this issues appears to require session, particularly due to the variety of people who find themselves at risk, for there are various folks of all ages and rank and of each sexes who’re more likely to be known as in and be at risk as a result of this superstition has unfold like a plague, in nation villages in addition to into cities and cities. Nonetheless, there’s good purpose to hope that this plague could also be stopped. Actually, the temples, which had virtually been deserted, are being attended as soon as once more, and the holy solemnities, which had been turning into irregular, are being revived. Sacrifices are promoting nicely all over the place, whereas up to now there had been only a few consumers. So you possibly can see how many individuals could also be corrected, if there’s a place for repentance.
Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus
Emperor Trajan’s Response to Governor Pliny the Youthful :
My Expensive Pliny,
You’ve got adopted precisely the fitting methodology in coping with individuals who have been accused of being Christian, for it’s inconceivable to spell out any common guidelines for instances like this. You definitely mustn’t go on the lookout for them, but when they’re accused and convicted of being Christian, they should be punished. Nevertheless, if an accused individual denies being a Christian, and proves he’s not by praying to our gods, it’s best to pardon him even when he was Christian up to now, if he’s sorry for it. You must definitely not pay any consideration to nameless accusations, since that might set a really dangerous instance, and such issues don’t have any place within the fashionable world.-
Observe the fitting methodology in coping with people who’re accused of being Christians. If they’re responsible of this crime, they need to be punished, and in the event that they deny being a Christian, they need to be pardoned.
Imperator Caesar Nerva Traianus Divi Nervae filius Augustus
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