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very slight suspicion, put to death, though he had as yet hardly laid down the consulship*."
Dion Cassius speaks more fully of these transactions." In this same year Domitian slew, with many others, Clement the Consul, though his own cousin, and married to a woman, who was also his relation. Against both these was alleged the crime of impiety, in consequence of having with precipitation embraced the Jewish institutions. Of these some were put to death; others were deprived of their property; but Domitilla was only banished to Pandateria. Epaphroditus, a freed-man of Nero, whom he had before banished, he then slew, under the charge of not having supported Nero †."
The first conclusion to be drawn from these accounts is, that the Clement, here said to have
Epaphroditum à libellis capitali pœnâ condemnavit, quòd post destitutionem, Nero in adipiscendâ morte manu ejus adjutus existimabatur. Denique Flavium Clementem patruelem suum contemtissimæ inertiæ repentè ex tenuissima suspicione tantùm non ipso ejus consulatu interemit, c. 14, 19.
+ Και εν τω αυτώ έτει άλλους τε πολλους και τον Φλάβιον Κλημεντα ὑπατευοντα, και περ ανεψιον όντα, και γυναικα και αυτην συγγενη ἑαυτου Φλαβιαν Δομιτίλλαν έχοντα, κατέσφαξεν ὁ Δομιτιανος. Επηνεχθη δε αμφον εγκλημα αθεότητος, ὑφ ̓ ἧς και άλλοι εις τα των Ιουδαίων ήθη εξο
been slain, was a convert to Christianity. The first object, which the preachers of the gospel had at heart, was to bring the heathen gods into disbelief and contempt. Hence the charge of impiety and atheism was every where urged against them. The spirit of paganism was blended with every circumstance of pleasure or of business; and those who embraced the gospel were induced (in some instances no doubt unnecessarily) to withdraw not only from the amusements, but also from the duties of society. Clement adopted this conduct; and Suetonius hence brands him as a man of the most despicable inertness. This accusation, as generally laid against the early believers, is complained of by Tertullian and other ancient writers*.
Epaphroditus is said by Cassius to have been a freed-man of Nero: but Suetonius gives him the title of à libellis, meaning that he was em
κελλοντες πολλοι κατεδικάσθησαν και οι μεν απεθανον, οι δε των γουν ουσιων εστερήθησαν ή δε Δομιτιλλα ὑπερω ρισθη μονον εις Πανδατερειαν---και τον Επαφροδιτον δε του Νέρωνος προτερον μεν εξεδίωξε, τοτε δε και έσφαξεν, επικαλεσας αυτω οτι μη ήμυνε τω Νερωνι. Lib. lxxvii. 14.
* Alio quoque injuriarum titulo postulamur, et infructuosi in negotiis dicimur. Apol. iv. 42. The conversion of Clement to christianity was too obvious to escape the attention of learned men. See Lardner, Vol. VII. p. 271. Gibbon has
ployed. by the emperor in decyphering and answering such letters, addresses, or petitions as were made to him. Hence his office corresponded to that, which in modern language is styled a Secretary of State, and he has been called Master of Requests. He was originally, it appears, a man of education, made a slave by the chance of war; but afterwards advanced to this high post of honour in the emperor's service by his industry and talents. From the above incidental mention of him, we might infer that he too was a believer in Jesus, and suffered with Clement in the same honourable cause. For Suetonius and Dion, though very different and independent writers, connect their sufferings together, which could not have been the case, unless the occasion of it had some connexion. It is moreover evident, that Nero put Epaphroditus to death, for some reason different from that specified by the above historians. Suetonius says that he was slain, because he assisted Nero in destroying himself, when now deprived of his power and pursued by the vengeance of the people: whereas
perverted the expression contemptissimæ inertiæ to mean want of courage and ability; a perversion highly censurable, as unwarranted by the original, and as calculated to wound christianity through the medium of this honourable convert. See Decline and Fall &c. Vol. II. c. 16.
Dion writes, that he suffered because he did not support the emperor after his downfal. Both these reasons are as frivolous and absurd, as they are contradictory. Above thirty years had now elapsed since the fall of Nero; and Epaphroditus had already lived fifteen years under the reign, if not in the service, of Domitian. And what cause could there be for now putting him to death, unless it were that for which others suffered? The above historians, it is true, do not mention this as the real reason; but they were evidently ashamed of such a reason, though the true one; and they would have been glad to allege for the death of Clement any other pretence, than the suspicion of atheism. The conduct of Suetonius is remarkable in this respect. As living very near the times, he mentions the affair in terms, though contemptuous, yet so brief and obscure, as would have left posterity entirely ignorant of the truth. But Dion succeeding him about a century after, when the fact was become more generally known, or more indifferent to those concerned in it, gives a more adequate detail of it. Besides, Epaphroditus had already been persecuted by Domitian, and it follows from the train of Dion's narrative that he, as well as Clement, Domitilla, and Glabrio, were among the many who incurred the charge of atheism by acceding to the Jewish Institutions.
We have the authority of the Apostle Paul for saying that, in the reign of Nero, the gospel was made known to the whole palace, and to all others, Phil. i. 12. Epaphroditus was a learned and inquisitive man: and he appears to have been in the number of those illustrious persons, whom St. Paul had the honour and bliss of converting in Cæsar's household. The conclusion drawn from the above passages is thus directly supported by the testimony of St. Paul, Phil. ii. 25." Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother and companion in labour, and fellow-soldier, an Apostle to you, and minister to my wants. For he longed after you all, and was full of anguish, (adnμovwv) because that ye had heard that he had been sick. For indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. sent him therefore the more carefully, that when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful. Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness, and hold such in reputation; because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life to supply your lack of service toward me."
In this passage there are very palpable incongruities, which can be removed only by one delicate circumstance in the history of Epaphro