In the opening paragraph of chapter 13 of The Darkening Age: The Christian Destruction of the Classical World, Catherine Nixey wrote:
The flames of damnation began to lick at Roman daily life. In literature of a newly sadistic strain, Christian writers outlined in graphic detail what awaited those who did not comply with the edicts of this all-seeing God. The punishments for sinners were, according to Christian texts, atrocious.
Now regarded as apocryphal, but for a time widely read in Rome, the Apocalypse of Peter revelled in verse after stomach-churning verse on what happened in Hell. In it, the reader is taken on an infernal safari in which the retributions for various misdeeds are pointed out with relish. This Hell is a terrible place; its punishments are grimly apposite. Blasphemers, for example, are found hanging suspended by their tongues, or ‘gnawing their lips’. Adulterers are hung by their ‘feet’—a punishment that doesn’t sound too bad until you realize that in these texts ‘feet’ was a euphemism for ‘testicles’. Those who trusted in their riches are turned on a spit over a fire.
Even children don’t escape. At the edge of a lake filled with the ‘discharge and the stench’ of those who were tortured are babies that are ‘born before time’—a blameless crime one might have thought, but not so here. These babies will cry for eternity, alone.