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Samobójstwo estetyczne. Na marginesie Quo vadis Henryka Sienkiewicza (ESTHETICAL SUICIDE. ON THE MARGIN OF 'QUO VADIS?' BY H. SIENKIEWICZ)

Keywords: CHRISTIAN MARTYRS , DEATH - ANCIENT & CHRISTIAN CONCEPT OF , PETRONIUS' SUICIDE

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Abstract:

The article presents the Petronius' suicide (as a character of 'Quo vadis?') in the context of ancient and Christian concept of death and dying. Petronius' death arranged as a piece of art (to realize the idea of beauty) is an icon of the ancient Rome's passing culture. It is a theatre of death and that is why it can not be the pattern to follow or any resolving of human existential mortality problem. Better attitude to death is Eunice's suicide committed for love as absolute value. Petronius' conduct and way of living was dependent on philosophy of Stoics, Epicureans, and first of all Skeptics. In this context we can see weakness of ancient philosophy as 'meditatio mortis'. Esthetical suicide as a final act of life is only human and it does not point to any eternal value. On the contrary, the death of the Christian martyrs reduced to bloody performance on the arena, points to transcendent aspect of human life and dying. According to Petronius, the way of dying is the best value criterion of any religious or philosophical doctrine and you can die with dignity even if you do not believe in Christ or eternal life. He tried to demonstrate the best values of Rome but his theatric death was rather empty gesture than the evidence of death's majesty. Christians' martyr death for faith seems more authentic than Petronius' esthetical suicide.

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