Maude Fealy as Mercia in the play 'The Sign of the Cross' (1904)
Plot (according to Wikipedia):
Much as in Quo Vadis, Marcus Superbus, a Roman patrician under Nero, falls in love with a young woman (Mercia) and converts to Christianity for her. As in Quo Vadis, Poppea, Nero's wife, is in unrequited lust for Marcus. At the end, Mercia and Marcus sacrifice their lives in the arena to the lions. This ending is in complete contrast to Quo Vadis, in which Marcus Vinicius (not Marcus Superbus) and Lygia (not Mercia) survive and presumably live happily ever after, and Nero and Poppea are the ones who die.
Salammbô (1862) is a historical novel by Gustave Flaubert. It is set in Carthage during the 3rd century BC. The book is largely an exercise in sensuous and violent exoticism. Following the success of Madame Bovary, it was another best-seller and sealed his reputation.