A HistoricalFiction novel set in AncientRome, ''Quo Vadis'' (1896) is internationally the most well-known work of Polish writer Henryk Sienkiewicz, also known for the ''Literature/SienkiewiczTrilogy''. ''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 [[{{Jesus}} 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=] (starring Robert Taylor, Creator/DeborahKerr, and Creator/PeterUstinov as Nero) and in 2001 by Jerzy Kawalerowicz.

(Note that although it is quoting a question, the title does not itself contain a question mark.)
!!This book contains examples of:

* AuthorAppeal: Lygia is from the Lugii, an ancient tribe that lived in present day Poland during the time of the Roman Empire, probably an example of GeniusBonus by the author, who was Polish.
* BeastAndBeauty: Vinicius and Lygia.
* BetterToDieThanBeKilled: [[spoiler: Petronius is more than aware his fate was already sealed, so instead he commits a suicide]] while reading aloud a huge TakeThat to Nero. For a book all about Christian values, the choice is still portrayed as a noble one, rather than one of the ultimate sins.
* TheCaligula: Emperor Nero.
* ChronicBackstabbingDisorder: Chilon. After switching sides so many times and causing so much harm to his friends, he ends up completely broken.
* ConcertClimax: At a gladiatorial arena.
* DamselInDistress: Poor Lygia.
* DeadpanSnarker: Petronius. Which is why we love him.
* DateRapeAverted: Ursus defends Lygia from Vincius' unwanted advances.
* DrivenToSuicide: [[spoiler: Petronius and Eunice.]]
* EverythingISBetterWithPrincesses: Lygia is a barbaric princess.
* FaceDeathWithDignity:
** The Christians who are killed in the persecution die in such a noble way that they make the executioners look like criminals (as Petronius points out).
** [[spoiler: Petronius himself prefers suicide over what might happen to him]].
* {{Fanservice}}: For a novel with such a pro-Christian message, the author goes into quite some detail describing the Romans' debauched activities.
* FedToTheBeast: Christians are fed to massive dogs and lions in a truly gruesome scene.
* FlorenceNightingaleEffect: Vincius was obsessed with Lygia for a long time, but after caring for him, Vinicius began to see her as a person and truly care for her, rather than just lusting after her pretty looks.
* TheFundamentalist: Crispus, until [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome called out by St. Peter]].
* GentleGiant: Ursus.
* GoodIsNotSoft: Ursus is calm, gentle and devote Christian, but he won't hesitate for a second to kill you with his bare hands if you try to harm Lygia.
* HappilyMarried: Pomponia and Aulus, Lygia's adoptive parents.
* HappinessInSlavery: Eunice. One must admit that Petronius treated his home slaves [[DeliberateValuesDissonance pretty well]].
* HeelFaithTurn: Vincius and Chilon.
* HistoricalDomainCharacter: Petronius, Nero, Poppaea, Saint Peter and Saint Paul play prominent roles.
* LoveAtFirstSight: Averted; more like lust at first sight, leading to LoveRedeems
* LoveMartyr: Acte, the only person in the world who still loves Nero, having fallen in love with the good person he used to be.
* LoveRedeems: It moves Vincius to grow from an impetuous hothead and warmonger into a loving, compassionate person.
* ManlyTears: The tribune of the Praetorians [[spoiler:giving the thumbs up to Ursus, Lygia, and Vinicius]].
* MyGodWhatHaveIDone: Chilon after seeing people he sold out being burned alive. The fact that they forgive him leads to his HeelFaithTurn.
* NobleSavage: Ursus.
* ProfessionalButtKisser: Nero's court.
* RedemptionEqualsDeath: Chilon. After he takes a HeelFaithTurn, he's tortured to death like other Christians.
* RunningGag: Petronius' dislike of craftsmen and him comparising others' rude or barbaric behaviour to different occupations. ("Calm thyself," said Petronius. "Thou hast the longing of a carpenter from the Subura.")
* SaintlyChurch: The early Christian church in Rome is portrayed in such a manner.
* StalkerWithACrush: Vincius, but he gets better.
* TakeThat: [[spoiler: Petronius' suicide note]] is an enormous one to Nero. To the point of stating that his wanton slaughter and destruction of Rome is still way less abhorrent than his art.
* TheseHandsHaveKilled: Ursus racks up quite the body count (using just his bare hands) but he regrets every single death.
* WickedCultured: For all his faults, Nero does love poetry and music.

!!The movies also have examples of:
* AdaptationalDyeJob: Lygia is described as having dark hair in the book, whereas in both versions of the movie she has reddish-blond to [[HairOfGoldHeartOfGold straight blond hair]].
* ArtisticLicenseHistory: Petronius and Vincius are shown playing chess, which even in primitive form wouldn't be invented for a couple of centuries after this time setting and wouldn't reach Europe until several centuries after that.
* ArtisticLicenseReligion: There's a cross at the underground Christian church service and a cross in Lygia's house. The cross would not become the main symbol of the Christian religion until a few more centuries after the time frame of this film.
* AsYouKnow: "You'll spend some time with me, before rushing off to your estate in Sicily?"
* ButLiquorIsQuicker: Vincius gives Lydia a goblet of wine and calls it "the panacea for all reticence."
* EstablishingCharacterMoment: Nero singing a song horribly while carping at his lute players over how to play said song, while one slave gives him a pedicure and another styles his hair.
* FaceDeathWithDignity
* GodivaHair: Notably when Lygia is tied on the bull.
* HeadbuttOfLove: The 2001 movie
* HollywoodToneDeaf: Nero's singing.
* LargeHam: Peter Ustinov as ''Nero?'' Yes, please.
* LadyMacbeth: Nero has Pomponia executed on this excuse.
* LastSupperSteal: A live-action recreation of the painting as Peter recounts the scene to the congregation in Rome.
* MyGodWhatHaveIDone: Chilon.
* NeckSnap: Ursus does this with ''a goddamn bull''.
* PsychopathicManChild / SissyVillain: Nero as portrayed in both film versions is capricious, self-absorbed, and effeminate.
* PuttingOnTheReich: Directly choreographed from ''Film/TriumphOfTheWill''.
* ThisIsWhatTheBuildingWillLookLike: Nero with his plans of what the new Rome will look like--as long as something like, say, a fire gets rid of all the stuff already there.
* TitleDrop: As per the legend, Peter says "Quo vadis, Domine?" on the way out of town.
* WhileRomeBurns: Quite literally.