Self-immolation was a way of taking one’s own life that had been used since ancient times. Most often it showed the courage of the unfortunate and expressed a kind of protest against injustice.
Already in Roman mythology, Dido – the legendary queen and founder of Carthage – set herself on fire upon learning that her beloved Aeneas was leaving the city.
The historian Eusebius mentions an event in around 300 CE, when persecuted Christians set fire to the palace of emperor Diocletian in Split and then threw themselves into the fire. It was supposedly an expression of rebellion and opposition to the strict Roman policy towards Christians.