Messala
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Quotes for
Messala (Character)
from Ben-Hur (1959)

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Ben-Hur (1959)
Messala: By condemning without hesitation an old friend, I shall be feared.

Messala: By what magic do you bear the name of a Consul of Rome?
Judah Ben-Hur: You were the magician, Messala. When my ship was sunk, I saved the Consul's life.

Messala: [greedily] Drusus, as a boy I dreamed of commanding this garrison. And now the wheel has turned. Now, I am in command.

Messala: Sextus, you ask how to fight an idea. Well I'll tell you how... with another idea!

Judah Ben-Hur: If I cannot persuade them, that does not mean I will help you... *murder* them. Besides, you must understand this, Messala. I believe in the past of my people, *and* in their future.
Messala: Future? You are a conquered people!
Judah Ben-Hur: You may conquer the land; you may slaughter the people. But that is not the end. We will rise again.

Messala: Look to the West, Judah! Don't be a fool, look to Rome!
Judah Ben-Hur: I would rather be a fool than a traitor... or a killer!
Messala: I am a soldier!
Judah Ben-Hur: Yes! Who kills! For Rome! Rome is evil!
Messala: I warn you...
Judah Ben-Hur: No! I warn you! Rome is an affront to God! Rome is strangling my people and my country, the whole Earth! But not forever. I tell you the day Rome falls there will be a shout of freedom such as the world has never heard before!

Judah Ben-Hur: [after he is sentenced to the galleys] May God grant me vengeance! I will pray that you live until I return!
Messala: [ironically] Return?

Messala: Judah, either you help me or you oppose me, you have no other choice. You're either for me or against me!
Judah Ben-Hur: If that is the choice, then I am against you.

Centurion: There's a Jew outside. He wants to see the Tribune Messala.
Messala: I assume he has a name.
Centurion: [sneeringly] He says he's a prince, Prince Judah Ben-Hur.
Messala: [loud and quickly] Then treat him like one!
[quietly]
Messala: Tell him I'll join him.
[the centurion starts to leave, and Messala shouts again]
Messala: CENTURION!
[Again quietly]
Messala: This was his country before it was ours. Don't forget that.
Centurion: Yes, Tribune.
[the centurion then goes out]
Sextus: That was very wise. This Judah Ben-Hur is the son of one of the wealthiest families in Judea.

[Messala is mortally injured after being trampled in the chariot race]
Surgeon: We cannot wait, Tribune.
Messala: [softly] He will come.
[he convulses with pain; they hold him down]
Surgeon: We cannot wait any longer, Tribune!
Messala: [shouts] He will come! He will come. I have sent for him, and he will come!
Surgeon: If you wish us to keep you alive, we have to go to work *now*, Tribune. Do you understand?
Messala: Cut the legs off me... Not yet. Not till I've seen him. I can't receive him with half a body!
[Drusus and the surgeon share a look; they begin binding Messala in preparation for amputation]
Messala: [struggling] NO!
[Judah appears in the doorway]
Messala: I told you, Drusus; I told you! There he is.
[Judah approaches and stands over Messala]
Messala: Triumph c... triumph complete, Judah. The race won, the enemy destroyed.
Judah Ben-Hur: I see no enemy.
Messala: What do you think you see? The smashed body of a wretched animal? There's enough of a man still left here for you to hate. Let me help you.
[he convulses with pain]
Messala: You think they're dead, your mother and sister? Dead, and the race over? It isn't over, Judah. They're not dead.
Judah Ben-Hur: [leaning closer] Where are they?
[pause]
Judah Ben-Hur: Where are they? WHERE ARE THEY?
Messala: [with grim satisfaction] Look... look for them... in the Valley... of the Lepers! If you can recognize them!
[Judah doubles over with grief]
Messala: It goes on. It goes on, Judah. The race... the race... is not... over!
[he dies]

Messala: Just as I remember it. The courtyard where we used to play at changing the guard; the roof where we used to throw pebbles at the people in the street and then hide!
[to Miriam]
Messala: Ah, we were rascals, weren't we?
Miriam: No, you were good boys! I would have that time again.

Servant: [Presenting a gift] For the Tribune. With the compliments of Quintus Arrius. He awaits your pleasure.
Messala: The consul here?
Servant: It is Quintus Arrius the Younger, tribune.
Messala: Thank him. Bring him to me.
Drusus: I didn't know the consul had a son.
Messala: I've heard of the young Arrius. He's a champion of the great circus. Why is he here presenting me with gifts?
Drusus: Perhaps he will race against you in the games.
Messala: [opens the box and takes out a dagger] Look.
Drusus: It's magnificent.
Messala: And from a man I've never met!
Judah Ben-Hur: [enters] You're wrong, Messala.

Judah Ben-Hur: What has become of my mother and my sister?
Messala: It is not my duty to keep track of prisoners.
Judah Ben-Hur: Find them, Messala. Restore them to me and I will forget what I vowed with every stroke of that oar you chained me to.
Messala: I am not the governor of Judea. I can do nothing without Gratus' approval.
Judah Ben-Hur: Then get it! I will come back tomorrow. Don't disappoint me, Messala.
[he leaves]
Messala: What became of them?
Drusus: It's been almost five years. Do you suppose they're still alive?
Messala: Go to the citadel, Drusus. Find out.
Drusus: And if they're dead?
Messala: They're dead!

Messala: Judah, tell me, did you-did you think about what I said yesterday?
Judah Ben-Hur: Yes. I talked to a number of people already. Spoken against violence, against incidents. Most of the men I talked to agree with me.
Messala: Most? Not all?
Judah Ben-Hur: No, not all.
Messala: Who does not agree?
Judah Ben-Hur: Well, the resentful, the impatient.
Messala: Who are they?
[pause]
Messala: Yes Judah. Who are they?
Judah Ben-Hur: [pause] Would I retain your friendship if I became an informer?
Messala: To tell me the names of criminals is hardly informing.
Judah Ben-Hur: They're not criminals, Messala! They're patriots!
Messala: Patriots. PATRIOTS!
[pause]
Messala: Judah. Judah, let me explain something to you. Something you may not know. The emperor is watching us. At this moment, he watches the east. This is my great opportunity, Judah, and yours too. If I can bring order into Judea, I can have any post I want. And you'll rise with me, I promise. And do you know where it can end? Rome! Yes, perhaps at the side of Caesar himself! I mean it, I mean it! It can happen and this is the moment, Judah! I swear this is the time! The emperor is watching us, judging us! All I need do is serve him. And all you need do is help me serve him.
Judah Ben-Hur: You speak as if he were God.
Messala: He is God! The only god! He has power, real power on Earth! Not-
[gestures to the sky]
Messala: Not that. Help me, Judah.
Judah Ben-Hur: I would do anything for you, Messala, except betray my own people.
Messala: In the name of all the gods, Judah, what do the lives of a few Jews mean to you?
Judah Ben-Hur: If I cannot persuade them, that does not mean I would help you murder them! Besides, you must understand this, Messala. I believe in the past of my people and in their future.
Messala: Future? You are a conquered people.
Judah Ben-Hur: You may conquer the land. You may slaughter the people. But that is not the end. We will rise again.
Messala: You live on dead dreams. You live on the myths of the past. The glory of Solomon is gone! Do you think it will return? Joshua will not rise again to save you nor David! There is only one reality in the world today! Look to the west, Judah! Don't be a fool, look to Rome!
Judah Ben-Hur: I would rather be a fool than a traitor or a killer!
Judah Ben-Hur: I am a soldier!
Judah Ben-Hur: Yes! Who kills for Rome and Rome is evil!
Messala: I warn you!...
Judah Ben-Hur: NO! I warn YOU! Rome is an affront to God! Rome is strangling my people and my country, the whole Earth! But not forever. And I tell you, the day Rome falls, there will be a shout of freedom such as the world has never heard before!

Judah Ben-Hur: Where are my mother and sister? Where are they?
Messala: Here, within these walls. The governor is recovering. They won't die. Of course, they will be sentenced.
Judah Ben-Hur: Is it possible- Messala, is it possible you could do this to us? To people you've known? A family you've loved? You'll let them go. You must! You will gladly let them go! MESSALA!
[pause]
Judah Ben-Hur: I didn't try to kill the governor! You know that! I'm not mad! I'm not a murderer!
Messala: I know you're not.
Judah Ben-Hur: You know?
[pause]
Judah Ben-Hur: You are evil.
Messala: No, Judah, I am not evil! I wanted your help, now you've given it to me. By making this example of you, I discourage treason. By condemning, without hesitation, an old friend, I shall be feared.
Judah Ben-Hur: But not my family. Let them go. Please. Messala, I beg you.
Messala: BEG? Didn't I beg you?
[pause]
Messala: You chose this for yourself. There's nothing more to be said.
Judah Ben-Hur: You!
[raises his spear to stab Messala in the chest]
Messala: Kill me and your mother and sister will die today! Nailed to crosses in front of you!
[Judah hesitates]
Messala: Go on, Judah! Kill me!


Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1925)
Ben-Hur: It is good to have you back, Messala - - a Roman who understands my people...
Messala: Rome rules the peoples she has conquered. It is for them to understand Rome!
[Ben-Hur frowns]
Messala: I meant no offense, Judah. But your stiff-necked race must learn submission to your masters!

Messala: To be a Roman is to rule the world! To be a Jew is to crawl in the dirt!

Messala: Egypt! Egypt! I would drown my soul in your eyes! Give me proof of your love!
Iras: My heart is in the hollow of your hand, Messala. What more do you wish?
Messala: You, flower of the Nile, will succeed where others have failed - - solve the mystery of Ilderim's driver.

Messala: Scum of the galleys! I will grind you in the dust before all Antioch!

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

Messala: Vile slave! By all the furies of Hell I curse you!

Charioteer: You're fouling me, Roman dog!
Messala: Yes, and I'll wreck you, Greek, to smash the cursed Jew behind you!


Ben-Hur (2016)
[from trailer, at start line]
Messala Severus: You should have stayed away.
Judah Ben-Hur: You should have killed me.
Messala Severus: I will.
[chariot race begins]