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peculiarly brutal manner

The historian Tacitus describes the first persecution of the new sect of Christians, blamed by Nero for the fire of Rome in AD 64:

'Some were nailed on crosses; others sown up in the skins of wild beasts, and exposed to the fury of dogs; others again, smeared over with combustible materials, were used as torches to illuminate the darkness of the night. The gardens of Nero were the site of this melancholy spectacle, which was honoured with the presence of the emperor, mingling with the populace in the dress of a charioteer.'

Edward Gibbon Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, chapter 16

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