Petronius Quotes in Quo Vadis (1951)
Petronius: [in his dying letter to Nero] To Nero, Emperor of Rome, Master of the World, Divine Pontiff. I know that my death will be a disappointment to you, since you wished to render me this service yourself. To be born in your reign is a miscalculation; but to die in it is a joy. I can forgive you for murdering your wife and your mother, for burning our beloved Rome, for befouling our fair country with the stench of your crimes. But one thing I cannot forgive - the boredom of having to listen to your verses, your second-rate songs, your mediocre performances. Adhere to your special gifts, Nero - murder and arson, betrayal and terror. Mutilate your subjects if you must; but with my last breath I beg you - do not mutilate the arts. Fare well, but compose no more music. Brutalize the people, but do not bore them, as you have bored to death your friend, the late Gaius Petronius.
Petronius: It is not enough to live well. One must die well.
[on being told the Christians are being blamed for the burning of Rome]
Vinicius: The people won't believe such a lie!
Petronius: But they are believing it. People will believe any lie, if it is fantastic enough.
[Nero is exasperated with the mobs]
Emperor Nero: Do I live for the people or do the people live for me?
Petronius: You are the sun in their sky! Does the sun have privacy?
Emperor Nero: The sun has the night! These people expect me to shine daily - hourly!
Petronius: [Nero begins to sing again, and his voice is horrible] Body of Bacchus, I've been listening to *that* since morning!
Vinicius: [amused] He seems in rare voice!
Emperor Nero: Is it possible that human beings can produce such a sound?
Petronius: Yes, when they've been pushed too far.
Petronius: [after seeing Rome consumed by flames] Now indeed, Nero has his place in history.
Petronius: [to Nero] You will be worthy of the spectacle - as the spectacle is worthy of you.
Petronius: [to Eunice] You ask why I do this. Because I love Nero, perhaps? He fills me with loathing!
Vinicius: [speaking of Nero] His new wife, Poppea, sounds interesting - a harlot for an empress?
Petronius: [sardonically humorous] My dear Marcus, what a proletarian observation! You must know that a woman has no past when she mates with a god.
Emperor Nero: [During the burning of Rome] What do they want?
Emperor Nero: A mob doesn't want justice - they want revenge!
Petronius: [to Nero] A genius, Divinity, should hold to his first thoughts on any subject.
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