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Lygia and the Bull

Museum Description:
Lygia and the Bull is a 20th-century original by Itailian-American sculptor Giuseppe Moretti who based it on characters in Henry Sienkiewicz's 1895 novel Quo Vadis. Originally intended for the city of Philadelphia, the bronze piece was bought by John Ringling in the late 1920s when the city fathers disagreed over the sculpture's propriety and removed it from public display.

Please note:
This sculpture was not produced by the Chiurazzi company.

Latest information:
The Ringling Museum has a letter from Moretti's widow, which states that the sculpture was not made by Moretti.
Look here to see Moretti's marble creation. Quite different indeed. Our sculpture is not any less beautiful and there are great stories to tell about it to our visitors.
Please read on...

The Quote:
The title is Latin, meaning Whither goest thou? (where are you going?) and refers to the encounter between St Peter and Jesus Christ on the Appian Way. Peter, fleeing from the persecutions of the Emperor Nero had a vision of Christ whom he asked "Domine, quo vadis?" (Lord, whither goest thou?). Jesus answered him, "Whither I go, thou can not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards" (John 13:36). Peter understood this to mean that Jesus was going back to Rome to be crucified again. Peter, following his own fate, returned to Rome and was crucified at the foot of the Vatican Hills where St Peter's Basilica stands today.

The Story:
Quo Vadis: A Narrative of the Time of Nero, commonly known as Quo Vadis, is a historical novel written by Henryk Sienkiewicz. Quo vadis is Latin for "Where are you going?" and alludes to a New Testament verse (John 13:36). The verse, in the King James Version, reads as follows, "Simon Peter said unto him, Lord, whither goest thou? Jesus answered him, Whither I go, thou can not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards." Quo Vadis tells of a love that develops between a young Christian woman, Ligia (or Lygia), and Marcus Vinicius, a Roman patrician. The novel takes place in the city of Rome under the rule of emperor Nero around AD 64.

Sienkiewicz studied the Roman Empire extensively prior to writing the novel, with the aim of getting historical details correct. As such, several historical figures appear in the book. As a whole, the novel carries a powerful pro-Christian message.

Published in installments in three Polish dailies in 1895, it came out in book form in 1896 and has since been translated into more than 50 languages. This novel contributed to Sienkiewicz's Nobel Prize for literature in 1905.

The Author:
Born into a wealthy family in Wola Okrzejska, in Russian-ruled Poland, Sienkiewicz wrote historical novels set during the Rzeczpospolita (Polish Republic, or Commonwealth). His works were noted for their negative portrayal of The Teutonic Knights, which was remarkable as a significant portion of his readership lived under German rule.

Many of his novels were first serialized in newspapers, and even today are still in print. In Poland, he is best known for his historical novels (The Trilogy) set during the 17th-century Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and elsewhere he is known for Quo Vadis, set in Nero's Rome.

Sienkiewicz had a way with language. In the trilogy, for instance, he had his characters use Polish language as it was spoken in seventeenth century. In Krzyzacy, which relates to the Battle of Grunwald in 1410, he even had his characters speak a variety of medieval Polish which he recreated by utilizing many of the archaic expressions then still common among the highlanders of Podhale.

The 1951 movie:
Quo Vadis has been filmed several times, most notably the 1951 version.

The 1951 film was made by MGM. It was directed by Mervyn LeRoy and produced by Sam Zimbalist, from a screenplay by John Lee Mahin, S. N. Behrman and Sonya Levien, adapted from the classic 1895 novel Quo Vadis by Henryk Sienkiewicz. The music score was by Miklós Rózsa and the cinematography by Robert Surtees and William V. Skall.

The film stars Robert Taylor, Deborah Kerr, Leo Genn, Peter Ustinov, with Finlay Currie, Felix Aylmer and Abraham Sofaer. Sophia Loren has an extra's role as a slave girl in one of her first film appearances. Elizabeth Taylor also has a cameo.

The action takes place in ancient Rome from 64-68 AD, during the reign of the Emperor Nero. The subject is the conflict between Christianity and the corruption of the Roman Empire, especially in the last period of the Julio-Claudian line. The characters and events depicted are a mixture of actual historical figures and situations and fictionalised ones.

The film tells the story of a Roman military commander, Marcus Vinicius (Robert Taylor), returning from the wars, who falls in love with a devout Christian, Lygia (Deborah Kerr). Commander Vinicius becomes intrigued by her and her religion. Their love story is told against the broader historical background of early Christianity and its persecution by Nero (Peter Ustinov). Though she grew up Roman, the adopted daughter of a retired general, Lygia is technically a hostage of Rome. Marcus persuades Nero to give her to him for services rendered. Lygia resents this, but still falls in love with Marcus. Meanwhile Nero's atrocities become increasingly more outrageous and his acts more insane. When he burns Rome and blames the Christians, Marcus goes off to save Lygia and her family. Nero captures them and all the Christians, and throws them to the lions, but Marcus are saved at the last moment by Ursus (Buddy Baer), Lygia's faithful servant.

Peter Ustinov's portrayal of the man-child Emperor Nero is so impressive that the viewer actually feels for Nero when Nero is faced with a popular uprising and kills himself to prevent his own execution. Leo Genn steals the show as Petronius, the preferred courtier of Nero, using his wit to adulate and mock him at the same time. When Nero facetiously asks Petronius if he is a Christian, Petronius meets Nero's gaze and responds, "If I were a Christian, then I would love my fellow man. And I most certainly do not love my fellow man."

Deborah Kerr's bodyguard, the muscleman Ursus, is played by Buddy Baer - yes, the uncle of *The Beverly Hillbillies*' Max Baer (and did you know that "Ursus" is Latin for "bear"? I wonder if anyone picked up the pun at the time). Although the role is mute, Baer appears in two of the film's memorable moments: Ursus' grapple with the professional wrestler Croton (Arthur Walge), and the spectacular scene at the end in the arena, when he must face a bull to whose horns Lygia has been tied (yes, friends, it is in the book, though Deb Kerr doesn't appear naked, as Sienkiewicz described it).

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