"Perpetua's Passion", written by Joyce E. Salisbury, studies the third-century martyrdom of a young woman, Vibia Perpetua. Salisbury follows Perpetua from her youth in a wealthy Roman household to her imprisonment and death in the arena while describing conflicting ideas of religion, family, and gender. Based on her book, Salisbury explains why Romans persecuted Christians, why other Romans converted to Christianity, and why Christians refused to abandon their faith even faced with torture and execution.
The book suggests that Perpetua was born into a well-educated Roman family and was brought up as a respectable young woman. Perpetua had a close relationship with her father who had a high place in the community. Perpetua had been carefully educated and guarded by her father to fulfill her roles to marry and bear children to continue the family line. People prayed for peace and opulence of the Roman Empire. For the safety of the emperor, people were to offer sacrifices that drew people together in a common hope.
This hope was guarded by gods and goddesses who protected cities and regions in return. In time, political problems threatened to tear the Roman Empire into pieces.
While Rome faced minor problems, a new religion, Christianity, developed. Romans viewed this new religion as threat to the stability of their ancient power. The Romans attempted to halt the spread of Christianity among the common people by persecution and oppression. Romans believed Christianity threatened to lay waste to traditional Roman values and practices and sabotage the very basis of Roman power. Romans justified their persecution by accusing Christians of breaking the peace of the gods, corrupting public morals, not following their ancestors, and many other issues.
Christians were persecuted for a variety of reasons. First, Christians denied the basis for the Roman authority by advocating that their...