Quo Vadis (1951)




Director:  Mervyn LeRoy

Starring:  Robert Taylor (Marcus Vinicius), Deborah Kerr (Lygia), Leo Genn (Petronius), Peter Ustinov (Nero), Patricia Laffan (Poppaea), Finlay Currie (Peter), Abraham Sofaer (Paul), Marina Berti (Eunice), Buddy Baer (Ursus), Felix Aylmer (Plautius), Nora Swinburne (Pomponia), Ralph Truman (Tigellinus), Norman Wooland (Nerva), Peter Miles (Nazarius), Geoffrey Dunn (Terpnos)

The persecution of the Christians under Roman Emperor Nero.


This is a love story beset with difficulties.  General Marcus Vinicius gets Emperor Nero to give slave girl Lygia, a Christian, to him.  Lygia resists the match, but eventually falls in love with the General.   But Nero starts to persecute the Christians after he blames them for the great fire of Rome.  Lygia and her family are caught up in this persecution.  Will love prevail in this period of persecution? 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D. 


Historical Background:


37  --  Caligula was Emperor of Rome.  He had three sisters: Drusilla, Julia Livilla and Agrippina the younger. 

37  --  birth of Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus in Antium, near Rome.  His father was Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus and his mother was Agrippina the younger, the sister and reputed lover of Emperor Caligula.  He was also the great nephew of Caesar Augustus.

Caligula's brother-in-law via sister Julia Livilla was Maricus Vinicius.

39  --  Caligula was away from Rome on a campaign against Germanic tribes. He had to return to Rome because of a plot against him.  Sisters Agrippina and Julia Livilla were both exiled to the Pontian islands. Nero was thus separated from his mother at this time. 

40  --  Nero's father died. 

41 --  Caligula assassinated.  Claudius became the Emperor. 

Nero's other married a wealthy man and then it is believed she poisoned him.  Nero was now the only heir to a huge fortune. 

49  --  Agrippina became Claudius's fourth wife. 

50  --  Nero was officially adopted by Claudius and became the heir apparent. 

51  --  at age 14, Nero was declared an adult; he now made joint public appearances with Claudius.

53  --  Nero married his adoptive sister, Claudia Octavia. 

54  --  Claudius died, probably poisoned by Nero's mother.  At age 17, Nero was Emperor. 

54-59  --  the first five years of his reign were good.

Nero was dissatisfied with his marriage and began an affair with a former slave, Claudia Acte. 

55  --  his mother tried to intervene in the marriage on behalf of her daughter-in-law, but Nero resisted.  She then plotted to replace Nero with her step-son Britannicus.  (But Britannicus suddenly died.)

Nero started falling into a hedonistic life-style and his administration suffered accordingly. 

by 58  --  the beautiful and witty Poppaea became Nero's favorite mistress.

59  --  Nero and/or Poppaea plotted to get rid of Agrippina the younger.  The political move hurt Nero's reputation. 

62  --  Poppaea was pregnant and Nero's wife had not given birth.  So Nero decided to divorce his wife, but she died before he could accomplish this.  

64  --  the great fire of Rome burned for a week.   Nero was blamed for starting the fire, but further research has thrown this assertion into doubt. Nero tried to deflect the blame onto the Christians.  He threw Christians to the lions and crucified many.  This was the first major persecution of the Christians.

There was increasing dissension in the Roman empire and Nero became increasingly paranoid.  Several rebellions started building.  Eventually, the Senate deposed Nero. 

68 (June 9)  --  Nero committed suicide.  This was the end of the Julian-Claudian dynasty.  Chaos followed in the Year of the four emperors.



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