“ICHTHUS”: CHRISTIAN SYMBOLS IN QUO VADIS

“ICHTHUS”: CHRISTIAN SYMBOLS IN QUO VADIS

The fish is a well-known symbol for Christians. You’ve probably seen it displayed
in the trunk of cars; if that is the case, then you’ve probably asked yourself
also, “Why a fish?” or “What is it supposed to mean?”

Its meaning is interwoven with its roots, the fish having been used as a mark
of Christianity for almost as long as Christianity itself. The word “fish” in Greek is
ictus (or ichthys), adopted by Christians as an acronym: “Iesous Christos, Theou
Uios, Soter,” or “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.” It was used by Christians due
to its innocuous nature – the cross being a much more conspicuous sign of
Christianity – and found great popularity in times of dire persecution.

MAIN ARTICLE: QUO VADIS, by Henryk Sienkiewicz

As such, the symbol features prominently in Quo Vadis, but it is not the only
instance of Christian symbolism in the novel. After all, the title itself is a reference
to the Acts of Peter, an apocryphal book where Peter, fleeing Rome, asks a
returning Christ the famous question, “Quo vadis, Domine?” (“Where dost thou
go, Lord?”), to which Christ replies that He goes to Rome to be crucified, this
time in Peter’s place; upon hearing this, Peter goes back to Rome and meets
his fate. This episode is featured at the end of Sienkiewicz’s novel – a novel
that counts with the presence of not only Peter, but the Apostle Paul as well.

BY DANIEL T. GOMES