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=] and in 2001 by Jerzy Kawalerowicz.

!This book contains examples of

* AuthorAppeal: Lygia is from the Lugii, an ancient tribe that lived in Poland during the time of the Roman Empire, probably an example of GeniusBonus by the author, who was Polish.
* BeastAndBeauty: Vinicius and Lygia.
* TheCaligula: Emperor Nero.
* ChronicBackstabbingDisorder: Chilon.
* 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).
* {{Fanservice}}: For a novel with such a pro-Christian message, the author goes into quite some detail describing the Romans' debauched activities.
* 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.
* 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
* 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]].
* CastTheExpert: Ursus was played by Buddy Baer (heavyweight boxer) and Rafał Kubacki (Olympic heavyweight judoka) in the 1951 and 2001 versions respectively.
* FaceDeathWithDignity
* GodivaHair: Notably when Lygia is tied on the bull.
* HeadbuttOfLove: The 2001 film.
* HollywoodToneDeaf: Nero's singing.
* LargeHam: Peter Ustinov as ''Nero?'' Yes, please.
* LadyMacbeth: Nero has Pomponia executed on this excuse.
* MyGodWhatHaveIDone: Chilon.
* PsychopathicManChild / SissyVillain: Nero as portrayed by Peter Ustinov is capricious, self-absorbed, and effeminate.
* PuttingOnTheReich: Directly choreographed from ''Triumph of the Will''.
* WhileRomeBurns