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A Historical Fiction novel set in Ancient Rome, Quo Vadis? (1896) is internationally the most well-known work of Polish writer Henryk Sienkiewicz, also known for the Sienkiewicz Trilogy. Quo Vadis tells the story of Marcus Vinicius, a young pagan Roman officer, and Lygia, a Christian barbarian Princess raised in a Roman household. The novel is set against the events surrounding the Great Fire of Rome of AD 64, including the Roman persecution of Christians.
The name comes from the Christian legend that recounts that when St. Peter was fleeing Rome as a result of persecution, he saw a vision of Christ and asked Him, Domine, quo vadis? ("Lord, where are you going?") -- to which the reply was "I go to be crucified again." Thus realizing that he was abandoning the faithful of Rome to their fates, Peter turned around and was martyred.
Quo Vadis? has been adapted to film several times, including in 1951 by Mervin LeRoy and in 2001 by Jerzy Kawalerowicz.
This book contains examples of
- Beast and Beauty: Vinicius and Lygia
- The Caligula: Emperor Nero
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Chilon
- Concert Climax: At a gladiatorial arena
- Damsel in Distress: Poor Lygia
- Deadpan Snarker: Petronius. Which is why we love him.
- Date Rape Averted
- Fan Service: For a novel with such a pro-Christian message, the author goes into quite some detail describing the Romans' debauched activities.
- Florence Nightingale Effect: Vincius fell for Lygia because she saved his life
- He was obsessed with her long before that, but after caring for him, Vinicius respected her as a person and did not see her merely as an object.
- The Fundamentalist: Crispus, until called out by St. Peter
- Gentle Giant: Ursus
- Happily Married: Pomponia and Aulus, Lygia's adoptive parents
- Heel Faith Turn: Vincius and Chilon.
- Love At First Sight: Averted; more like lust at first sight
- Love Redeems
- Manly Tears: The tribune of the Praetorians giving the thumbs up to Ursus, Lygia, and Vinicius
- Noble Savage: Ursus
- Redemption Equals Death: Chilon
- Saintly Church
- Stalker with a Crush: Vincius, but he gets better.
- These Hands Have Killed: Ursus racks up quite the body count (using just his bare hands) but he regrets every single death.
The movies also have examples of:
- Face Death with Dignity
- Godiva Hair: Notably when Lygia is tied on the bull.
- Headbutt of Love: the 2001 film
- Large Ham: Peter Ustinov as Nero? Yes, please.
- Lady Macbeth: Nero has Pomponia executed on this excuse.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Chilon.
- Putting on the Reich: Directly choreographed from Triumph of the Will