Pomponia, Graecina

Pomponia, Graecina the wife of Plautius, a Roman general who commanded in England in the year 45, is thought, from a sentence in the Annals of Tacitus (13, 32), to have been a Christian, and the first in Britain. Tacitus says: "Also Pomponia Graecina, an illustrious woman, married to Plautils (who on his return from Britain entered the city with the pomp of an ovation), but accused of a foreign superstition, was left to the decision of her husband." She was tried, according to custom, for her abandonment of the national worship, by her own husband, Plautius, in the presence of her kindred, and was acquitted. She lived to a great age, apparently in sorrow, and wearing "no habit but that of mourning." This was attributed to grief for the fate of Julia, the daughter of Drusus, who was put to death by Messalina fourteen years before the accusation was brought against Pomponia. But this alone would not account for the charge of forsaking the Roman religion; and the supposition that she was a Christian, and that her mode of life grew out of her religious faith, is certainly quite probable. The wife of Plautius and Claudia Ruffina are supposed to be of the saints that were in Cesar's household, mentioned by Paul (Php 4:22). Claudia is celebrated by Martial for her admirable beauty and learning in the following epigram:

"From painted Britons how was Claudia born! The fair barbarian! how do arts adorn! When Roman charms a Grecian soul commend, Athens and Rome may for the dame contend."

Speed, a very ancient British author, says that "Claudia sent Paul's writings, which she calls spiritual manna, unto her friends in Britain, to feed their souls with the bread of life; and also the writings of Martial, to instruct their minds with those lessons best fitting to produce moral virtues"—which Speed thinks was the occasion of this line in Martial's works: "And Britons now, they say, our verses learn to sing." Gildas, the most ancient and authentic British historian, who wrote about A.D. 564, in his book called De Vict, Aurelii Ambrosii, affirms that the Britons received the Gospel under Tiberius, the emperor under whom Christ suffered; and that many evangelists were sent from the apostles into this nation, who were the first planters of the Gospel; and who, he elsewhere says, continued with them until the cruel persecution of Diocletian, the emperor, about A.D. 290. See Ivimev. Hist. of the English Baptists; Fisher. Beginnings of Christianity (N. Y. 1877, 8vo), p. 521. (J. H.W.)

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