Marcus, a blacksmith in Pompeii, becomes a gladiator champion. Convinced of his own strength, he goes to Judea to get some horses and meets Pontius Pilate. His son Flavius was injured in a fall from a horse. A healer heals him. While Marcus leaves Jerusalem, the Man of Healing under his cross staggers up a hill. Marcus, concerned about his own affairs, does not help him. Back in Pompeii, Marcus prepares for killing Christians in the arena and for his visitor Pilate. Flavius helps some Christians escape but is caught and sent to the arena. Marcus cannot save his son. Vesuvius erupts and in the confusion, Flavius and the Christians escape to a ship. Marcus blocks the gate to the dock, saving his son. The background chorus of the gods mock humans' illusions of control of their lives.
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