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By Henryk Sienkiewicz | Translated by Jeremiah Curtin
As Rome swelters under the lecherous tyranny of Emperor Nero, the young patrician Marcus Vinicius finds himself ruled by a far gentler (yet perhaps more dangerous) power: his love for the pure and beautiful Lygia. Yet Lygia is a member of that strange and fledgling cult of Christians, and as such refuses to make the Roman ways her ways. In pursuit of this seemingly unattainable woman, Vinicius is drawn into her world, the world of this Jesus and his followers and his heralds, the fisherman Peter and the Pharisee Paul, and their mysterious message of life everlasting. When the maniacal caprice of Nero lays a terrible charge against the Christians, Vinicius and Lygia and, indeed, every Roman citizen, must decide to whom they will pledge their ultimate allegiance: God or Caesar.
Since its publication in 1896, Quo Vadis has been one of historical fiction’s most beloved works, translated into fifty-plus languages and adapted for film numerous times, most famously in the 1951 version, with Robert Taylor and Deborah Kerr starring. Weaving romance, intrigue, violence, human passion, and divine mercy into a seamless literary garment, Sienkiewicz communicates both the intricacy of human history and the invincibility of the living truth.
“Quo vadis, Domine?”
“If thou desert my people, I am going to Rome to be crucified a second time.”
Henryk Sienkiewicz (1846–1916) was a Polish Catholic writer and novelist, best-known for The Trilogy, a set of novels about the seventeenth-century Cossack–Polish War—With Fire and Sword, The Deluge, and Fire in the Steppe—and the historical epic of Christian persecution in Nero’s Rome, Quo Vadis. In 1905, Sienkiewicz was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for his “outstanding merits as an epic writer.”
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