Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ

1 
Pagan Rome was at the 
  zenith of her power.
The tread of her iron 
legion shook the world;
and from every land rose
the cries of captive
peoples - - praying for a 
      deliverer.

2
In Judea the glory that 
  was Israel's lay
scattered in the dust -
and Jerusalem the
Golden, conquered and
oppressed, wept in the
shadow of her walls.

3
It was the twenty-fourth 
  day of December -

4
An unending stream of
  travelers eddied in
and out of the great
Joppa gate - - Syrians,
Greeks, Jews, Egyptians
- all bound homeward.

5
For Rome had decreed
  that the whole world
should be taxed, and
every man was forced
to go to his birthplace
   to be counted.

6
"Will women ever cease 
to paint their faces!"

7
Two weary travelers
  striving to reach
Bethlehem before
  nightfall - -

8
"Are you not Joseph
    of Nazareth?"

9
"That is Mary."

10
Far to the Southward -
  three wise men bent
on a strange and holy
        quest.

11
And in the even Mary
  and Joseph came
unto Bethlehem - - but
there was no room for 
  them in the inn.

12
"Nay, other wives must
sleep beneath the stars 
tonight. Is your wife
  better than her
      sisters?"

13
The Cave of David -
gray with the dust
  of centuries.

14
"A thousand years ago
the boy David, the
Shepherd King, rested
here with his flocks."

15
"The place is sanctified."

16
And there were in the
  same country shepherds
abiding in the field.

17
And they came with haste
  and found Mary, and
Joseph, and the babe.

18
"At last the prophets
are fulfilled - a King
     to save us!"

19
And the three Wise Men,
  bringing gifts, worshipped
the Holy Child as one born
to be King and deliverer.

20
Melchior - the Hindoo.

21
Caspar - - the Greek.

22
Balthazar - the Egyptian.

23
But year after year
  went by and the
Nazarene became a 
  wistful memory.

24
In Jerusalem the coming
of Gratus, a new Roman
tyrant, was awaited by
the sullen and furious
     people - -

25
Everywhere unrest --
  the rich fearing for 
their fortunes, the poor
   for their lives.

26
"What chance has
a Jew against a
     Roman?"

27
There was disquiet even 
  in the great palace of 
Hur -- for centuries the
home of a powerful line
of Jewish princes - -

28
The widowed Princess
     of Hur - -

29
Simonides, trusted bond-
  slave, hurriedly
summoned to remove
the Hur riches to the
comparative safety of
   Roman Antioch.

30
"Quiet your fears, noble
lady. Your fortune will
be safe with me. But
  we must get away 
before Gratus arrives."

31
"God speed you, Simonides.
I am distressed that you
must go without seeing
your young master - -"

32
"No higher than that
was Ben-Hur when I
  saw him last -"

33
"You have been true to 
me and mine. If the 
law allowed I would free 
   you, Simonides."

34
"My bondage is easy
since you have let the 
world - - even my
daughter - believe me
free. I am content."

35
Esther, Simonides'
  daughter, on
her first visit to
  Jerusalem -

36
The young prince -
  Judah, Ben-Hur.

37
"The pigeon - I would
know if his wing
mends. May I not 
come to inquire?"

38
"- It is a far journey -
     to Antioch."

39
"Not too far for me -
     some day!"

40
"Save your excuses. It
is way of your race
to walk backwards!"

41
"I seek the Roman
officer Messala -
   my friend."

42
"Messala!"

43
"Your past has come to 
life - a Jew claims you 
     for friend!"

44
"Surely you have not
  forgotten Judah?
  Judah, Ben-Hur!"

45
"How strange it is after
all these years to see
you a Roman officer!
How splendid you look!"

46
"My mother and sister
will be rejoiced to see
you. I pray you come!"

47
"In the past this house
  was as your own,
Messala. Continue to
   regard it so."

48
"Do you remember my
sister, Tirzah, whom
you delighted to tease?"

49
"Another to greet you, 
Messala - Amrah, who
used to make you 
    sweets!"

50
"You have not changed,
Lord Messala - - you
were always bold and
     handsome."

51
"It is good to have you 
back, Messala - - a
Roman who under-
stands my people - -"

52
"Rome rules the peoples
she has conquered.
It is for them to 
understand Rome!"

53
"I meant no offense, Judah.
But your stiff-necked race
must learn submission to
     your masters!"

54
"Amrah is wrong, Messala.
In outward seeming you
are the same. but in
spirit - - you are a
      stranger."

55
"My friend Messala
  is become --"

56
"A Roman!"

57
"And why not? To be
a Roman is to rule the 
       world!"

58
"To be a Jew is to
crawl in the dirt!"

59
"Forget you are a 
       Jew!"

60
"Forget I am a Jew?
Forget you are a
      Roman!"

61
"Israel has known other
conquerors than Rome
and lived to see their 
downfall. The time will
     come again!"

62
"Ah, Messala! I have loved
you as a brother! Let us
forget this bitterness."

63
"Gratus is at the gates -
I must go. Think well
ere you speak treason
again - even to a friend!"

64
"Messala has shown 
me - - how we are 
    despised!"

65
"The Holy Child of Bethlehem
you told me of - prophesied
to be the Messiah! If it
were true, he could save 
     us from Rome!"

66
"Oh, if he would only 
come now - - rise up
and lead us -- how I
would fight for him!"

67
Over the worn gray 
  stones that had 
known the glory of 
   Solomon - -

68
- Under the ancient
walls where the
prophets walked and
talked with God -

69
- Black horsemen
  from Nubia -

70
- - Celts from Britain,
Helvetian mountaineers,
Thracians of the Black
Sea - - warriors from
every corner of the
     Empire - -

71
- - Clanking, grim
and relentless, the
    conquerors.

72
"Ho! Gratus! Roman
dog! Jehovah smite
       you!"

73
"Bray a welcome,
Bombo - to your
brother Gratus!"

74
"There rides Messala!
Caesar himself is not
    more kingly!"

75
"God has spoken! Down
  with the Romans!"

76
"His was the hand that 
did it - I saw him throw 
      the tile!"

77
"No! No, Messala! It
is not true! You know
  it is not true!"

78
"Take the women, too!"

79
"In the name of the mother
that bore you, Messala!
Double your vengeance 
on me but let them go
        free!"

80
"Oh, Lord, in the hour
of thy vengeance - -
mine be the hand to
  put it on him!"

81
The way of death -
  across the burning
wastes to the sea --

82
- Sentenced to the 
  galleys for life.

83
A carpenter shop -
  by the side of the
  Nazareth road.

84
The carpenter had
     a son -

85
"Water! Water!"

86
"My torment is more 
than I can bear! Is
there no God left in
     Israel?"

87
"I am strengthened, O
Lord, and I will live -
live to fight for the 
King when he comes!"

88
And so, for the first 
  time, Judah and
the Son of Mary met -
    and parted.

89
The vengeful arm of 
  Rome had reached 
forth to Simonides -

90
"Speak, dog! Where are
the Hur moneys hidden?
Gratus will have them
if he cracks every bone
in your stubborn skin!"

91
Then for a time the name
  of Hur was forgotten.
Roman legions tramped the
land and Roman galleys
   swept the seas -

92
- Stately and beautiful;
but under the beauty,
deep-locked in the heart
of each ship, a hell of
      human woe.

93
"He is dead! But still
they lash - and lash -
      and lash!"

94
The Tribune, Quintus
  Arrius, commander
    of the fleet -

95
"Merciful gods! I can
bear no more! Give
me the boon of death!"

96
"Pray not for death,
you coward, while 
your enemies live!
 Pray for life!"

97
"A galley slave wanting
to live! How long have
you been at the oars?"

98
"In your calendar, three
years -- in mine, three
      centuries!"

99
"What has kept you 
       alive?"

100
"I live for revenge!"

101
"Spoken like a Roman!"

102
"I am a Jew!"

103
"Pirates!"

104
"They outnumber us 
    two to one!"

105
"Clear the decks!
Take stations for 
    battle!"

106
"Chain the slaves!"

107
"Unshackle that slave!
He has a freeman's 
      spirit!"

108
"Full speed, Hortator!
  Drive your slaves!"

109
"Romans!"

110
"I am Golthar - Golthar
the terrible! What have
 I to fear from Rome?"

111
"By Zeus! From Rome
I captured you! To
Rome I will return 
you - - in my own
    fashion!"

112
On they came, ship
  after ship, battering
the Romans with their 
  deadly rams -

113
Grimly the Romans
  fought, but where
one pirate fell, two
sprang to take his
    place - -

114
"Death to Arrius!"

115
Two days later - on
   a sullen sea.

116
"Romans! You are 
     saved!"

117
"I am defeated and 
disgraced! I cannot
face the scorn of my 
    countrymen!"

118
"Take this ring - it will
buy your freedom - but
let me settle my own 
        fate."

119
"I owe you my life! I
 cannot let you die!"

120
"Jupiter be praised! It
is Quintus Arrius! Our
   search is ended!"

121
"- - It was your final
order turned the battle.
Never has there been a
more glorious victory!"

122
"The slave! What shall 
  be done with him?"

123
"This is no slave, my
friends, but my adopted 
son. Honor him as you 
      honor me!"

124
Time passed and Arrius'
  adopted son - - strength
  and endurance galley-
hardened - became the greatest
athlete of his day, the idol
          of Rome.

125
But Rome knew naught
  of the secret grief
  that tore Ben-Hur -
of the mother and sister
for whom he had searched
long and fruitlessly - -

126
"Noble Arrius, Caesar
sends this tribute to
your son for having
three times driven his
chariot to victory in
     the races."

127
"Forgive me, my father -
I must leave you again.
This day I learned of a
mysterious miser at Antioch,
said to be Simonides, once
    steward to Hur."

128
  "But must you go
yourself this time? Let
 me send messengers -"

129
"No messengers can serve 
my haste. I myself must
go to Antioch by the 
     first ship."

130
"I can deny you nothing, 
my son. Go if you 
must - with my blessing!"

131
While in the maze of 
  Roman dungeons 
underneath Jerusalem -

132
Two prisoners - -
 long forgotten by
  their jailers.

133
In the land of Israel never-
  ending oppression - -
  but still they hoped. By
the Pool of Siloam they talked
  of a strange man - -

134
"He is not the promised
King, this Nazarene!
He is a preacher of 
parables and sermons!"

135
"- Where are his armies?
Think you he can
scatter the Romans with
words - and prayers?"

136
"He speaks not of war and 
strife, but of comfort to
the weary and relief for the
oppressed. I have heard 
        him - -"

137
"Come unto me, all ye that
labour and are heavy-laden,
and I will give you rest."

138
"His sword is truth and 
his shield is love. He
   needs no armies!"

139
Antioch! The Rome of 
the East! Colorful,
pagan, famed for its
       games.

140
On the outskirts of the 
  city the Sheik Ilderim,
known throughout the
East for his fiery racing
Arabs, had pitched his 
       tents - -

141
"He should drive goats -
      not horses!"

142
"Curse him! Tomorrow
the races and he has
killed himself. Was ever
     such a fool!"

143
Now there was one in 
  the heart of the city,
body broken by Roman 
torture, who cared
nothing for Roman
    games - -

144
- A merchant prince
known as the Miser
    of Antioch.

145
"A Roman - Arrius the
Younger, would speak 
     with you."

146
"I crave your pardon -"

147
"My father will not keep 
you waiting long. I pray 
    you be seated."

148
"Surely we are not 
strangers - have we
  not met before?"

149
"To forget so easily
is scarce a tribute 
      to me!"

150
"- Your face I never
could forget. It is the
time and place have
    slipped me."

151
"I am told you are
Simonides - - once
  steward to the
  House of Hur."

152
"And what concern is 
that of yours? Who
are you to question 
        me?"

153
"I am Judah, Ben-Hur!"

154
"Know you not that
Ben-Hur died in the 
galleys, a galley-slave
- and that he was
the last of the Hurs?"

155
"What do you mean?
Speak! My mother
and sister - -"

156
"The women of Hur 
are dead! Years of 
fruitless search have
  convinced me."

157
"No! No! It is not true!
If you are concerned for 
your riches, keep them -
  but give me hope!"

158
"The family of Hur
   is no more!"

159
"My mother's!"

160
"She gave it to me.
With her own hands
she slipped it on my 
arm. I - I loved her -"

161
"Wear it always -
  for her sake."

162
"My friend, where is this
    young Arrius who
  landed from your ship
  this morning? I must
       find him!"

163
"I would all your wishes
were as easy to grant.
Here is young Arrius 
      himself!"

164
"The great race is on
tomorrow and I am
without a driver. You
must drive my Arabs
       for me!"

165
"But you must! Ask
anything! I am the
great Sheik Ilderim and
I can grant it. Think
  of the glory!"

166
"Persuade him, my friend,
or Messala the Roman
will humble me before
    all Antioch!"

167
"Said you Messala?"

168
"I will drive your 
     chariot!"

169
"Not as Arrius the Roman,
racing for glory - but as
the unknown, driving for 
       revenge!"

170
"Come, then, for time
does not loiter and we
  have much to do!"

171
"For your belief in me
   I do thank you."

172
"Why are you so certain,
my father, that he is 
    not Ben-Hur?"

173
"Nay, child, I had never 
a doubt. He is Ben-Hur!"

174
"Esther, all these years
I have lived a lie. I
  am a slave to the 
    House of Hur!"

175
"For myself I care not,
but if I acknowledge
him, you too are his
       slave!"

176
"Yours the decision,
Esther. I cannot make
it. Heiress to Simonides
the Merchant or slave-
  girl to Ben-Hur!"

177
Across the river in the
  wealthy Roman quarter
dwelt Messala - a Messala
unchanged by the years.

178
"Iras the Egyptian 
   awaits you."

179
"I must leave you, my 
friends. Duty calls
and a soldier must 
       obey."

180
"Egypt! Egypt! I would
drown my soul in your 
eyes! Give me proof of 
     your love!"

181
"My heart is in the 
hollow of your hand, 
Messala. What more
  do you wish?"

182
"You, flower of the Nile,
   will succeed where 
others have failed - -
 solve the mystery of 
Ilderim's driver. I would
   know if he needs 
    watching - -"

183
At the end of the day's 
training Sheik Ilderim
made ready to entertain 
     a guest - -

184
"By the three-horned 
goat of Ranor, you
   are welcome!"

185
"Even Iras the Egyptian,
whom all men worship,
has sought you out!"

186
"Flashing eyes and milk-
white bodies! Beauty 
to be tamed! Does it
  not thrill you?"

187
"Tomorrow Messala shall
choke in the dust from
     their heels!"

188
"Curiosity consumes me!
Why do you race as 
the Unknown Jew? Is
it because you fear
 another driver?"

189
"Get you to these fat-
bellied Romans, Sanballat.
Tease them, bully them,
shame them, but - force
    them to bet!"

190
"Almost I am convinced
you are Apollo himself.
Tell me who you are?"

191
"If you are as slow in
the race tomorrow as
you are in love today,
  Messala may drive
  snails and win!"

192
"Simonides the
   Merchant."

193
"I am come to make
restitution to your
guest - - he is the
Lord Judah, Prince of 
  Hur! My master!"

194
"Give not your gratitude 
to me, but to my gentle 
Esther who counseled 
         me."

195
"This the accounting of 
all your possessions --
you are the richest 
subject in the world!"

196
"Your father's slave was 
    I, Lord Judah -"

197
"This driver of Ilderim's
is strangely confident
and I have but now 
learned his name. He is
Judah, Prince of Hur!"

198
"Calm your foolish fears!
The man is an impostor.
Judah, Ben-Hur has been
dead these many years!"

199
On the morrow - While
  the populace pushed
and fought its way into
the Circus, there were 
those who lingered for a
final wager in the betting 
        ring - -

200
"Give me odds against 
the Unknown Jew, noble 
Messala! Six to one -
the difference between 
 a Roman and a Jew!"

201
"You braying fool! Who
has ten thousand pieces 
  of gold to wager?"

202
"The Unknown Jew, 
Messala! I have that
amount and more!
And I want no odds!"

203
"Scum of the galleys!
I will grind you in the 
dust before all Antioch!"

204
"Ho! Romans! Saw
you ever a Jew in a
    chariot?"

205
"I will ride you down --
wrench off your wheels -
trample you into the
sand! You shall race -
   to your death!"

206
"Fifty thousand pieces of 
gold! A King's ransom,
  Messala! More than
 your entire fortune!"

207
"Do you forget that you
are a Roman - and that
   I am only a Jew?"

208
"Vile slave! By all the 
furies of Hell I curse 
         you!"

209
"So be it! To the death!
But one of us shall leave 
   the course alive!"

210
Still they came - all of
  Antioch, thousands
upon thousands - - to
 see the great race.

211
"You're fouling me,
    Roman dog!"

212
"Yes, and I'll wreck 
  you, Greek, to
 smash the cursed
 Jew behind you!"

213
To the victor the
  spoils - -

214
"Your health, Ben-Hur!
  You have broken 
Messala and stripped
him of his fortune!"

215
"I am revenged indeed,
but to what profit!
My mother and Tirzah
are dead! Can gold
restore them to me -"

216
"- Or strike the Roman 
 shackles from my 
people? What have I
   to live for?"

217
"Hail Ilderim! The time
is come. You shall see
the downfall of Rome!"

218
"Well said, O Balthazar,
  Wise Man of Egypt!
And welcome - my tent 
    is honored!"

219
"I bring a grave message.
The Holy Child of
Bethlehem whose star I
followed is grown to
manhood. He is the
promised Messiah."

220
"At last a King to
 free my people!"

221
"He alone can save
the world from the
bondage of Rome!"

222
"But there is no time
to lose! His followers
must act in all haste!
We must proclaim him
        King!"

223
"This is my pledge! Money
and lands and life itself!
Even unto death will I 
     follow him!"

224
"This very hour will I
leave Antioch - - to
gather him legions!"

225
"Mark you, Simonides -
everything I possess to
the cause of the King!"

226
"Better than life itself 
do I love you! But not
until the King comes
into his own may I
dream of you again!"

227
"The Lord watch between
me and thee, when we
are absent one from
     another."

228
"And I will wait for you, 
Judah - as long as life
      shall last."

229
"He that is without sin among
you; let him first cast a stone
            at her."

230
From among the humble 
  fishermen by the Sea
of Galilee Ben-Hur gathered
  his first legion -

231
In Ilderim's desert
  country - - the
  second legion.

232
On the next day, much people
   when they heard that
Jesus was coming to Jerusalem,
took branches of palm trees,
and went forth to meet him.

233
A new governor, Pontius
  Pilate, had come to
Jerusalem and his first 
act was to order the 
release of all prisoners
  whose crimes were 
     unrecorded.

234
"Unclean! Unclean!"

235
"Lepers!"

236
"Mark you! Before dawn
be outside the city walls -
in the Valley of the 
       Lepers."

237
"Lepers! Lepers!"

238
Now when the even was 
  come, he sat down with 
  the twelve - -

239
"A new commandment I
give unto you, That ye
  love one another."

240
And in that same hour
  Ben-Hur, saddle-weary
and travel-worn, came
again to the city of his
      fathers - -

241
"Get you immediate news
of the Nazarene from his
followers. I go to my
father's house to wait 
    for Simonides."

242
"Mother!"

243
"Not a sound! He
belongs to the 
living - we to the 
     dead!"

244
"In all the world I 
have no one left 
but you, beloved."

245
"They have seized the 
  King!  The mob
howls - - only the
legions can save him!"

246
 "O Judah! O my son!
I have seen you for the
 last time on earth!"

247
"Back! Back! Come
no nearer! Unclean!
    Unclean!"

248
"But your voices I
 know - Tirzah -"

249
"Grieve not for us, Esther,
but keep our secret. If
  Judah knew it would 
    wreck his life!"

250
"If you love him -
    promise!"

251
And when they had bound 
  him, they led him away,
and delivered him to Pontius
  Pilate, the governor.

252
In the streets the 
motley crowds grew
 more turbulent -

253
"This is no King! Where
is his purple? Where
     his crown?"

254
"But I know he is the
King - - the Savior
promised by Jehovah!
I myself have seen him
heal the sick and raise
     the dead!"

255
"Think you he can heal
  anyone - - of any
     sickness?"

256
"Anyone, gentle Esther,
who believes in him.
 But you must have 
      faith!"

257
Into the Valley of the 
Lepers - chancing all -
with a hope born of 
    desperation.

258
"Nay, you must come!
He can save you! All
Jerusalem is ringing
with his miracles!"

259
"He has even raised 
    the dead!"

260
And so Pilate delivered
  Jesus to the mob.

261
In the thousands that
  looked on - Romans,
Jews, Greeks, Arabs,
Syrians, Easterners. It
seemed the whole world
was represented along 
   that tragic way.

262
"O King, two legions of
  fighting men are
coming! Each blow to
you will be avenged a
   thousandfold!"

263
And a voice came to him saying:

    "My Kingdom is not of this
    world. Put up thy sword,
    for the Son of man is not
    come to destroy men's lives,
        but to save them."

264
"Master, my babe is 
dead. Give her back 
      to me."

265
"Lepers! Lepers!"

266
"Master, have mercy on 
   us! We believe!"

267
And they parted his raiment,
     and cast lots.

268
"Father, forgive them; for they
    know not what they do."

269
There was a darkness over
  all the earth until the 
   ninth hour.

270
- And the earth
  did quake.

271
And over the plains of 
   Judea two mighty
   legions advanced.

272
"Our King is dead!"

273
"He bade us hold our 
peace - - forgive our
enemies - - love one
     another -"

274
"- and pray."

275
"He is not dead - -"

276
"- He will live forever 
in the hearts of men."

THE END

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