A story of ancient Rome. The scene of this story is laid in Rome in the days of Nero. Rome has recently suffered conflagrations and other disasters, and Nero, hoping to divert the public ... See full summary »



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A story of ancient Rome. The scene of this story is laid in Rome in the days of Nero. Rome has recently suffered conflagrations and other disasters, and Nero, hoping to divert the public wrath from his own misconduct, has encouraged the persecution of the growing sect of Christians. Valerius, the hero of the story, is a young Roman officer of a better nature than the people with whom he is thrown in contact. Leah, the heroine, is a beautiful young woman, and one of the leading spirits of a band of Christians. In the opening scene of the picture we see Leah, the heroine, and the Christian band being roughly treated by the mob in the streets of Rome. The scene then changes to the interior of a Roman house where the hero, Valerius, and a number of loose Roman men and women are drinking and gambling. Valerius is thoughtful and becomes disgusted with the life he is leading. He leaves the scene of dissipation in spite of the protests of Gallia, a courtesan, who is in love with him, and goes... Written by Moving Picture World synopsis

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Plot Keywords:

religion | biblical | See All (2) »


Short | Drama




Release Date:

21 August 1909 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Way of the Cross; or, a Story of Ancient Rome  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

Some of the scenes might be called extraordinarily good
21 December 2014 | by (Chicago) – See all my reviews

A Vitagraph picture which is strong, but one feels disposed to question the advisability of showing it. The subject is one that has considerable historical significance when it is understood that the scenario represents Rome in Nero's time, when the persecution of the early Christians was undertaken to divert the attention of the people from Nero's own acts. The love story involves a young Roman officer, beloved by a courtesan, who uses her influence to secure a decree ordering the extermination of the Christians. Perhaps this was the moving cause in Nero's decision. Such episodes have been common enough in history and this may not be wrong, though it has never been so stated in any of the books. The love of Valerius for Leah, the Christian girl, is well worked out, and the struggle which Valerius has with himself is, perhaps, the strongest scene in the piece. It is good acting, but the rest is little more than commonplace. The reproduction of fancied scenes in the Roman arena, with gladiators in combat, are copies of pictures or are supposed scenes. There is a creepy sensation when the Christians are thrust through the gate into the arena, while beyond the fence the lions and other wild beasts can be seen moving back and forth, awaiting their prey. It may be that the picture is too suggestive. It seems to pall upon one's desire for pictures, and even though it is watched with the closest attention through its length, it must be confessed that one breathes a sigh of relief when it ends. The staging is good. Perhaps some of the scenes might be called extraordinarily good. The acting, excepting in the instance mentioned, did not seem to measure up to the standard required. Technically the film is good, though there is some darkness here and there which might be lightened up a bit without injuring the artistic qualities of the picture. - The Moving Picture World, September 4, 1909

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