Beginning during the reign of Nero, and continuing throughout most of the Roman Empire, the comparatively young religion of Christianity was used as a scapegoat for various misfortunes and wrongdoings that occurred within society. This persecution, however, only strengthened the Christian will and helped it to develop into the religious power that eventually overcame the Roman Empire.
Christianity first arose under the rule of Tiberius, when a man named Jesus and his followers formed a breakaway group of Jews, who held modifies views, and intimidated authorities with the popularity they gained. Like many of his followers to come, Jesus was crucified for his beliefs rather than for specific unlawful actions.
This unjustified killing was very much the Roman style of dealing with any opposing faction. The utter brute force of the Roman military, coupled with the fear and channelled hatred of the common people, provided and explosive weapon with which to smite Christians. A weapon that eventually proved to be just as harmful to the imperial authority as it had been to the Christians.
To understand the motives and reasoning for blatant genocide one must first realise the state of Roman society and way of life at the time. Following the peaceful and prosperous reign of Augustus, the people had witnessed a steady decline in public dignity and morality, and in the calibre of their leaders. By the year 64 AD, Rome was in the hands of a chaotic and morally corrupt emperor by the name of Nero. Though widely considered a madman, Nero enjoyed complete power of a dictator, and was known for his brutality, insecurity, and flamboyant publicity stunts. It was in the year that fire destroyed the city of Rome, and Nero's true nature became apparent.
As the city lay smouldering and the survivors emerged, outlandish rumours spread suggesting that Nero himself had caused the fires in order to clear land for his new constructions.