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Quo Vadis by Henryk Sienkiewicz

Updated on December 24, 2009

The question "Quo vadis, Domine?" or "Whither goest Thou, oh Lord?" is asked of Christ by Peter as the aged Apostle is fleeing from Rome. Christ says that if Peter leaves Rome, then He must return to the city and be crucified a second time. Overcome with shame, Peter goes back to Rome.

Quo Vadis is a historical novel by the Polish author and Nobel Prize winner Henryk Sienkiewicz. It was published in book form in 1896. The novel vividly describes life in Rome during the reign of Nero, who was emperor from 54 A.D. to 68 A.D.

The story deals with the love of a young Roman nobleman, Vinicius, for a Christian girl, Lygia. He tries to obtain her love by force, but she is protected and hidden from him by the Christian community.

When Vinicius finds Lygia, he is impressed by the Christians, and when he adopts their religion, Lygia agrees to marry him. Meanwhile, Nero has started a terrible fire that destroys most of Rome. He is persuaded to blame the fire on the Christians, and many of them, including Lygia, are arrested.

Rescued dramatically from the arena, Lygia joins Vinicius and escapes with him to Sicily. In Rome, Nero, faced by a revolt, commits suicide.


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