Tuesday, 02 October 2007

Origin and meaning of "Quo Vadis"


“Quo Vadis?” is used often. Restaurants, films, shops even old automobiles have been called Quo Vadis.
I thought it would be easy to find the background to these words. .
The easy part is the Latin translation.
“Where are you going?”
There are other translations with subtle differences, but the essence remains the same.
Earliest references allude to a New Testament verse (John 13.36), translated to the following "Simon Peter said unto him, Lord, whither goest thou?”
More than this I could not find, so I read the book Quo Vadis.
The book was written roundabout 1896 by Polish Nobel Prize winner Henryk Seinkiewicz. He was a Latin scholar and historical researcher.
Legend has it that Peter fled Rome during the persecution of the Christians during Nero’s time. On the Appian Way he was confronted by a vision of Christ.
Peter asked “ Quo vadis, Domine?” ( “Where are you going, Lord?”)
To which the Lord replied “ If you desert my people, I am going to Rome to be crucified a second time”
Peter returned to Rome and was later crucified.
This is the best I could do, somehow I do not believe I have done justice to the occasion, any contributions will be welcome.
Image from Wikipedia
EDIT on 17 October 2008
I have never really felt that this post has done justice to the occasion and I went digging deeper I found this passage in the introduction of the book Quo Vadis by Henryk Sienkiewicz, first published in 1896. The author was a respected latin researcher. Passage verbatim from the introduction
“Quo vadis, Domine”, or as the apostle Peter would say in common parlance, “Where do we go from here, Lord?” Legend has it that Peter sought to flee Rome after the seeming destruction of the Christian church there, resulting from persecution under Nero. He was supposedly not afraid, but rather wished to preserve the rest of the church in the light of the victory of Antichrist (Nero) in the new Babylon (Rome). But the Lord’s response to “Quo vadis?” was for Peter to return and die with his brethren, not in defeat, but as a sign of victory over the powers of darkness. Whether this legend is true or not, we all know the outcome.”
Still digging, will find more....

6 comments:

Carol said...

Thank you for your explanation on the deeper meaning of Quo vadis . I appreciate your efforts. I was looking for an answer as I've just started reading QUO VADIS by Sienkiewicz.

Art said...

The term also refers to a short cropped hair cut worn by folks w/tightly curled hair, such as African-Americans. A parlance of beat poets and 60's folks, the term has comeback into common usage w/ the election of our 44th President.

Greg said...

There is more to the meaning yet than the original story. It is the question of Christ to us (The World and it's people) "Where are You going?" in your life? Are you going to end up living a life of selfish pursuits? Or live your life seeking to know the one who died that you might go to spend your eternity with him in paradise?

Anita said...

I like the above explanation of Greg. Where are we really going with our life in this world ---- to journey with Christ and gain eternity with Him or go the wrong path and be doomed forever.

Seeker said...

How do you think this fit in with Pope Benedice XVI's upcomming resignation at the end of the month?

Marguerite White said...

I also like the explanation of Greg,I feel that its important to know where we are going in life spiritually and to do our best in life we can,there is to much evil done in this world.