Hic ergo rex durus et iniquus Nero fugatus
pelli iubet populum Christianum ipsa de urbe,
participes autem duo sibi Caesares addit,
cum quibus hunc populum persequatur diro furore.
mittunt et edicta per iudices omnes ubique,
ut genus hoc hominum faciant sine nomine Christi;
praecipiunt quoque simulacris thura ponenda
et, ne quis lateat, omnes coronati procedant.
in histrionica si fidelis ire negavit,
feliciter exit: sin vero, de turba fit unus.
nulla dies pacis tunc erit nec oblatio Christo,
sed cruor ubique manat, quem describere vincor,
vincunt enim lacrimae, deficit manus, corda tremiscunt:
quamquam sit martyribus aptum tot funera ferre;
per mare, per terras, per insulas atque latebras
scrutanturque diu, exsecratas victimas ducunt.
(Commodianus, Carmen Apologeticum 862-877)
Then the hard and wicked monarch Nero, formerly exiled, shall order the Christian populace to be expelled from the city. Two Caesars shall participate with him in this, with whom he shall persecute the Christian populace with dire madness. They shall order the judges to issue edicts throughout the land, so that they can compel Christians to abandon the name of Christ. And in the event that any should be able to evade them, they shall order all to go forth crowned that they should place offerings of incense before idols. If any of the faithful refuse to take part in the spectacle, he shall die a blessed death. But if not, he merely becomes one of the crowd. At that time there shall be no day of peace, nor offering to Christ. Blood shall flow everywhere, which I shrink from describing. Fear shall prevail, hands shall fail, and hearts shall tremble: many shall be the deaths fit to impose upon the martyrs. For a long time shall the despised victims be sought over the sea, over the lands, through the islands, and in their hiding places, before they have been led forth to their deaths. (tr. Darius Matthias Klein)