The Romans accused Christians of many crimes. For example, they believed that early Christians were practising cannibalism. They probably thought so because they heard about Christ’s followers eating his flesh and drinking his blood. But where does the negative attitude of the Romans towards the followers of Christ come from?
Romans professing traditional deities were primarily suspicious of Christians due to the fact that they refused to offer sacrifices to traditional Roman deities and the ruler himself. In their opinion, it was an insult to the deities and to the Emperor himself.
Persecution of Christians was not continuous. They often resulted from a sudden crisis or catastrophe that required a scapegoat – such was the case with the great fire of Rome in 64 CE. The bloodiest period of persecution was the 3rd century CE when the Empire was shaken by a powerful internal, external and economic crisis.