Sin and evil and its horrifying effects on Roman civilization permeate Quo Vadis. From the lust of Vinicius for Lygia that leads to the killing of his faithful servant, to the debauchery of the murderous Nero, sin stains both the individual and the state itself. Even the noblest Roman, Petronius, suffers from it as reflected by his trickery against Aulus Plautius as well as his seeming unconcern, dissolute lifestyle, and ultimate suicide. Sienkiewicz depicts a Rome that was indeed rife with evil and ready to fall.
However, the author also shows that a different kind of Rome was also steadily being created through the Christian conversion and spiritual transformation of its citizenry. The slow but steady change in Vinicius from a murderous man who cares only for himself and his own desires to a kind and caring one concerned about others offers hope that the new Rome will be made up of citizens transformed by the power of a grace and love from beyond this world that stems from a just and compassionate God.
The power of “faith in Christ” and “the faith of Christ” to sustain the characters in difficult circumstances is clear in Sienkiewicz’s portrayal. The consummate example is Peter returning to Rome to die with Christ’s followers after his vision of the Lord, but the steady resolve of the other believers in the face of martyrdom to stay their course and keep their faith in Christ stands out as well.
(The entire section is 418 words.)