Painting: ‘A Christian Dirce’ by Henryk Siemiradzki - a Christian woman is martyred in this re-enactment of the myth of Dirce. Siemiradzki (1843-1902) was a Polish Academic painter, known for depictions of scenes from the ancient Greco-Roman world and the New Testament.
Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (15 December AD 37-9 June AD 68), generally known as Nero, was the fifth and last Roman Emperor of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Christian tradition and other historical sources hold Nero as the first major state sponsor of Christian persecution. The non-Christian historian Tacitus describes Nero as extensively torturing and executing Christians after the Fire of Rome in AD 64. Suetonius also mentions Nero persecuting Christians in the Roman Empire. The Christian writer Tertullian (155-230) was the first to call Nero as the first persecutor of Christians, when he wrote, "Examine your records. There you will find that Nero was the first that persecuted this doctrine".
Nero is also accused as the killer of Apostles Peter and Paul. Bishop Eusebius of Caesarea (275-339) was the first to write that Apostle Paul was beheaded in Rome during the reign of Nero. He states that Nero's persecution led to Peter and Paul's deaths, but that Nero did not give any specific orders. However, some other accounts have Paul surviving his two years in Rome and traveling to Hispania. By the 4th century, a number of writers were stating that Nero killed Peter and Paul.