Roman Emperor Nero, is a singer of beautiful songs, his first love, he himself composes, if you don t like them, better keep your opinions unsaid, you ll live a longer life Nero has killed his mother, wife, brother, all his family, and many former friends Only unlimited praise, the mighty Caesar enjoys but that he is terrible, his voice and music, is a small sacrifice for his friendship and the vast benefits, he showers Petronius, the Arbiter of Elegance , and close friend of the vicious ruler, has much influence in the court A well educated and secret writer of The Satyricon, the first novel, with poetry He doesn t take credit as the author, Petronius likes to live in Rome, not exiled, as others have been The book ridicules certain Roman patricians, their society, both he is part of In the arts, nobody knows than he Marcus Vinicius, a military tribune, his nephew, back from a war in Asia Minor, informs his uncle in the opulent steamy Roman Baths, that he has fallen madly in love, with a pretty maiden While recovering from an injury in the house of Aulus Plautius, a retired, and honored general, who helped in conquering Britain The girl is the daughter of a foreign king, a Roman hostage, now living in the home, of the General s and Pomponia Graecina, the wife of Aulus, she , becomes very fond of her, treated like a daughter Since all her relatives perished, Lygia, now considers them her new family The young patrician soldier must have her as his concubine, but Lygia, is a secret Christian, who though she loves him, will not accept that Marcus seeks his uncle s influence to get the girl, away from her loved ones Nero has Lygia, come to his palace to be examined, the Emperor likes attractive women, but the noble, clever, arbiter of elegance, tells him, she is too narrow in the hips, not true, and a compliment today, but it saves the lady Poppaea, the Emperor s cruel new wife, hates the maiden, naturally, Tigellinus, ambitious head of the Praetorian Guard, he likes to kill, hates Petronius, his arch rival Given to Marcus, but with the help of Ursus, Lygia s devoted servant, as big as a giant and as strong as an ox, escapes easily, before reaching the tribune s house Which so angers the lovesick Marcus, that nothing else matters, but to recover his prize, greatly effecting his health With the assistance of Christians, including St Peter and Paul, she is well hidden Fires break out soon after, in the vast city, countless building are incinerated, the great capital of the world, is tumbling down People are perishing in its flames, shooting high , into the night sky, bright now as daylight, crowds are streaming out of the infernal, the thick smoke , chokes, the heat and flames, killing thousands, winds spreading the insatiable fires Everyone but Marcus, the soldier, flee, in a desperate effort to rescue his beloved, enters the doomed town, staggering, in the hopeless search, hardly able to breath, falling but getting up, he must continue the quest, or die trying The frightened Nero, afraid of the people s wrath, blames the obscure Christians, for the disaster, many will bravely die in the bloody arena The Roman masses, must be appeased 1904 Superb.You must have read this novel.Gripping and full steam to the heart.A wonderfull book, dont miss it.I love it so much, I cant say accuratetly how I enyoyed it. 800 2016 16 17 1 16 17 241 682. Near the end of Quo Vadis Petronius Arbiter writes a letter in reply to his nephew Vicinius who has fled Rome with his bride, Ligia In the letter Petronius discusses his philosophy and his fate contrasting it with the Christian belief that Vicinius has accepted He says There are only two philosophers that I care about, Pyrrho and Anacreon You know what they stand for The rest, along with the new Greek schools and all the Roman Stoics, you can have for the price of beans Truth lives somewhere so high that even the gods can t see it from Olympus QV, p 566 It is interesting to note that Pyrrho is noted for a philosophy of skepticism that claims the impossibility of knowledge For him our own ignorance or doubt should induce us to withdraw into ourselves, avoiding the stress and emotion which belong to the contest of vain imaginings This theory of the impossibility of knowledge suggests a sort of agnosticism and its ethical implications may be compared with the ideal tranquility of the Stoics and Epicureans who were popular among Romans This certainly contrasts with the Christian spiritual view that emphasizes belief in the supernatural It is a philosophy that, at least for Petronius, lets him face death unequivocally with a sort of stoicism that provides a potent example in opposition to the Christian view It also is an example of the breadth of beliefs shown by Sienkiewicz in his portrayal of the culture and character of the Roman world.This contrast of philosophies underlies the novel and made it interesting to me than the simple love story that it also presents In Quo Vadis we are presented with an historical novel of depth that shows us the corruption and depravity of Nero s Rome while it presents the worlds of aesthetics and skepticism represented by Petronius and that of the young Christian sect whose believers include Peter and Paul, of biblical fame, and Ligia, the barbarian princess who becomes the focus of young Vicinius amour It is perhaps not a coincidence that the nineteenth century had several writers Bulwer Lytton, Kingsley, and Wallace including Sienkiewicz who reacted to the prevalence of anti christian views among the romantics Shelley, et al This is seen in the pronounced admiration for the poor Christians and the sensational nature of the culmination of the story involving the Neronic destruction of many of the Christians in terrifically brutal games In spite of this Sienkiewicz through vivid detail creates a believable historical setting for his love story and overcoming his biased portrayal of the Christians and the contrast with the irrationality and evil of Nero, he succeeds in telling a moving and thoughtful portrayal of Rome in the first century A.D. Great book for a retreat Spiritually invigorating, makes one excited about the Catholic faith It is fiction with references to standard Catholic tradition, and is set in the time of the Christian persecutions in Rome during the reign of Nero The focus of the novel is a love story between a Roman centurion and a beautiful Christian princess in exile The story s central conflict takes place in the person of the centurion s friend, who also happens to be a cultural lackey in the court of Nero And there is great action provided by the princesses personal bodyguard, who probably would have been competitive in the WWF Sienkiewicz s view of Christianity is strikingly progressive for his time While he makes a remarkably strong effort to unite sexual desire into conversion and Christian love, there remain strong hints of 19th century romanticism In the end we find out that Sienkiewicz s ultimate goal is not necessarily spiritual but historical The climax of the book has St Peter making eye contact with Nero, the great transition in history marking the passing of the old worldly order to a new other worldly order Yes, Saints Peter and Paul do make several cameos in this story I liked it very much. Rome During The Reign Of Nero Was A Glorious Place For The Emperor And His Court There Were Grand Feasts, Tournaments For Poets, And Exciting Games And Circuses Filling The Days And Nights The Pageantry And Pretentious Displays Of Excess Were Sufficient To Cloy The Senses Of Participants As Well As To Offend The Sensitive Petronius, A Generous And Noble Roman, A Man Of The World Much In Favor At The Court Of Nero, Is Intrigued By A Strange Tale Related By His Nephew Marcus Vinitius Of His Encounter With A Mysterious Young Woman Called Ligia With Whom Vinitius Falls Madly In Love Ligia, A Captured King S Daughter And A One Time Hostage Of Rome, Is Now A Foster Child Of A Noble Roman Household She Is Also A Christian The Setting Of The Narrative Was Prepared With Utmost Care Henryk Sienkiewicz Visited The Roman Settings Many Times And Was Thoroughly Educated In The Historical Background As An Attempt To Create The Spirit Of Antiquity, The Novel Met With Unanimous Acclaim, Which Earned The Nobel Prize In Literature For The Author In As A Vision Of Ancient Rome And Early Christianity It Has Not Yet Been Surpassed, Almost A Century Later It s easy to love the book for both the story and the history But I love it all the for the characters except for Calina, I must say I find her rather dull My favorite is by far Petronius the arbiter of elegance He has the most interesting evolution throughout the book he makes it very clear that he only cares about himself, his own pleasures, his well being He doesn t like to be bothered with anything that happens in the dirty world of the peasants He only cares for Vinicius in the limits of his own comfort He tries to help his nephew with the woman he loves the only way the Romans knew how by force Near the end though, he starts seeing other people as human beings, even though he refuses to live by Christian teachings and spread everyone with love He even tries to help the persecuted Christians by unsuccessfully manipulating Nero He shares Vinicius s suffering when Ligia is tortured in the arena But even if he becomes considerate of others, he won t quit his principles and he won t acquiesce to the Christian ways, not because he doesn t believe them to be true, but because he can t sacrifice the pleasures of life He understands the Christians and their desire to redeem their souls, but he loves the decadence and the hedonism too much to give up the gods Who cares about eternal life in Heaven when you re rich and you can have fun Truth lives somewhere so high that even the gods can t see it from Olympus These are the words of Petronius, in his last letter to Vinicius In the end, he chooses not to pursuit the truth and to limit himself to his life on earth The bliss that comes from honoring the gods is, to him, far important than finding peace in poverty, humility and love for all beings Nearly everyone makes this choice every day, even if we call ourselves Christians In Ancient Rome, being a Christian meant so much than it does today It wasn t just an abstract concept of religion, it was pure belief and a way of life. Quo VadisHenry Sienkiewicz s Quo Vadis is a truly great book Unfortunately, I know best how to explain its greatness to those who like me were young in thehe 60s and 70s If you are not part of this group, this review may not be terribly helpful To those of you of my generation, I will say that Quo Vadis is a wonderful novel about the Roman Empire in the First Century of the modern era when Rome was entering its decadent era It is better than anything written by Robert Graves who still must considered an outstanding writer In places, it is as lurid as the Fellini s Satyricon.Published in 1895, Quo Vadis addressed the great question that had been raging in academia for the previous half century Why had Christianity succeeded Christianity was a schism of Judaism that arrived in Rome in the first half of the First Century AD and within less than three hundred years, became the official religion of the Roman Empire Its pacifist teachings seemed entirely inappropriate for a military empire It lacked any literature and relied entirely upon personal testimony to spread its ideas in a society that was dominated by the rich classical heritage of Plato, Aristotle and other philosophers that we continue to revere until this day In the context of the Roman Empire, Christianity s success seemed improbable and required explanation.Sienkiewicz s explanation was that while Rome was rich and militarily powerful, the level of immorality was intolerable The rich entertained themselves with drunken orgies while the masses went to the arenas where human beings where killed for their entertainment.Sienkiewicz might seem to be a simplistic moralizer especially to anyone who has had the misfortune to see any of the movies based on Quo Vadis However, in Quo Vadis he shows great subtlety and an excellent knowledge of the Latin literature of the eras.Sienkiewicz s critics might argue that he too readily accepted the versions of Suetonius and Tacitus on Nero during whose reign the events of Quo Vadis take place Suetonius and Tacitus both came from senatorial families that had suffered badly under the reign of the Nero Hence they have been accused of exaggerating the evil nature and mental instability of Nero Sienkiewicz, however, accepts Suetonius and Tacitus without reservation Since these two authors are the only sources for the era, he perhaps ought not to be criticized too heavily for having done so.However, Sienkiewicz s brilliance did not come from his use of Tacitus and Suetonius but rather of Petronius Arbiter the author of the Satyricon a book generally thought to be a paean to the decadent life style Under, Sienkiewicz s pen, Petronius becomes a man with a profound understanding of classical philosophy and a fellow traveller with the Christians.Petronius is one of Nero s courtiers He makes the mistake of thinking that he can control Nero Like the moth who gets too close to the flame, he perishes for being too close to the tyrant Petronius is a profoundly sympathetic character He is driven at all times by his love for his nephew Vinicius who falls in love with a Christian, converts and marries her.Petronius respects the Christians for their virtue but ultimately rejects Christianity because he feels that Christianity is opposed to human pleasure Like Socrates who drinks the hemlock, Arbiter will choose the unchristian means of suicide to die when he falls out of favour with Nero and realizes that he is about to be executed Quo Vadis then is a great novel about the tension between classical thought and the Christian religion Strangely enough it is the pagan stoic Petronius not the Christian Vinicius who gets the last word in the novel.The problem for many readers of the 21st century is that the second half of the novel is filled with descriptions of Chrisitans being devoured by lions and massacred by gladiators in the Roman Forum Tales of Christian martyrdom are simply considered to be in dreadful taste in today s world even if the historical record confirms that they did in fact take place.Many cultured individuals in today s Western society feel that our society should be examining its conscience about its sins imperialism, slavery, anti Semitism, etc To individuals of this frame of mind, discussion of persecution of Christians appears like a self serving way to divert attention from the many sins perpetrated by Christian societies I personally feel that Christians should be allowed to honour their own martyrs if this done without claiming virtues for our societies that they do not possess.As a final thought, I would like to point out for non Catholic Christians that Quo Vadis rigorously presents Christianity in its pre Roman Catholic form Although, Sienkiewicz was a strong adherent of the Roman Catholic Church its present form, he goes to great pains to show that early Christianity was much different There are no priests or clergy in Quo Vadis The early Christians simply endeavoured to follow Christ They had beliefs but no theology In a word, Christians of any stripe will enjoy Quo Vadis I recommend this book highly However, I think that one should read Petronius Arbiter s Satyricon first and either the Annales by Tacitus or the Twelve Ceasars by Suetonius Without such a preparation Quo Vadis risks becoming a melodramatic tale of Christian virtue opposed to Pagan gore. Marvellously written , Quo Vadis is an epic from the times of the first Christians and the fall of Nero s Rome A stark contrast between Rome s way of life among decadent celebrations, pan et circenses, orgies and sycophantic adepts to Nero s madness, slavery and class distinction and that of the first Christians practicing austerity, compassion and aiming at a classless society Vitinius transformation due to the redeeming power of love leads him to embrace Christ and reject the life he had previously known.