Rome Burns, Christians Suffer (64 CE)
On July 18, 64 CE, a fire breaks out in Rome. The initial flames were probably the result of an accident in an oil warehouse. Fanned by summer winds, the inferno engulfs the city for six days and seven nights, scorching seventy percent of the city.
According to the historian Tacitus, "A rumor had spread that, as the city burned, Nero stepped onto his private stage and sang.... To stop the rumor, he falsely charged...the people called Christians, who were commonly despised for their superstitions.... They were covered with skins of beasts, torn apart by dogs, nailed to crosses, burned alive--then, as each day drew to a close, they would be turned into torches to illuminate the night."