Nero offered his gardens for the spectacle, and was exhibiting a show in the circus, while he mingled with the people in the dress of a charioteer or stood aloft on a car.
1 Moses Hadas, “Introduction” to The Complete Works of Tacitus(New York: Random House, 1942), pp. IX, XIII-XIV.
2 An alternate theory is that the Annalsincluded sixteen books and the Histories, fourteen books, also for a total of thirty (cf. Hadas, p. XII).
From Gary R. Habermas, The Historical Jesus – Ancient Evidence For The Life Of Christ (in print at Amazon)
Hence, even for criminals who deserved extreme and exemplary punishment, there arose a feeling of compassion; for it was not, as it seemed, for the public good, but to glut one man’s cruelty, that they were being destroyed.^3 From this report we can learn several facts, both explicit and implicit, concerning Christ and the Christians who lived in Rome in the AD 60s. Chronologically, we may ascertain the following information.
(1) Christians were named for their founder, Christus (from the Latin), (2)who was put to death by the Roman procurator Pontius Pilatus (also Latin), (3)during the reign of emperor Tiberius (AD 14–37). (4)His death ended the “superstition” for a short time, (5)but it broke out again, (6)especially in Judaea, where the teaching had its origin. (7) His followers carried his doctrine to Rome. (8)When the great fire destroyed a large part of the city during the reign of Nero (AD 54–68), the emperor placed the blame on the Christians who lived in Rome. (9)Tacitus reports that this group was hated for their abominations. (10)These Christians were arrested after pleading guilty, (11)and many were convicted for “hatred for mankind.” (12)They were mocked and (13)then tortured, including being “nailed to crosses” or burnt to death. (14) Because of these actions, the people had compassion on the Christians. (15) Tacitus therefore concluded that such punishments were not for the public good but were simply “to glut one man’s cruelty.”^4