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He suppressed all foreign religions, and the Egyptian1 and Jewish rites, obliging those who practised that kind of superstition, to burn their vestments, and all their sacred utensils. He distributed the Jewish youths, under the pretence of military service, among the provinces noted for an unhealthy climate; and dismissed from the city all the rest of that nation as well as those who were proselytes to that religion,2 under pain of slavery for life, unless they complied. He also expelled the astrologers; but upon their suing for pardon, and promising to renounce their profession, he revoked his decree.
2 Similia sectantes. We are strongly inclined to think that the words might be rendered "similar sects," conveying an allusion to the small and obscure body of Christians, who were at this period generally confounded with the Jews, and supposed only to differ from them in some peculiarities of their institutions, which Roman historians and magistrates did not trouble themselves to distinguish. How little even the well-informed Suetonius knew of the real facts, we shall find in the only direct notice of the Christians contained in his works (CLAUDIUS, c. xxv, NERO, c. xvi.); but that little confirms our conjecture. All the commentators, however, give the passage the turn retained in the text. Josephus informs us of the particular occurrence which led to the expulsion of the Jews from Rome by Tiberius.-Ant. xviii. 5.
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