The Last Days of Pompeii (1913) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • Well respected Pompeiian Glaucus performs an act of kindness by buying Nidia, a blind slave being mistreated by her owner. Nidia falls in love with her new master, but he only has eyes for Jone. Jone in turn is lusted after by Arbace, an Egyptian high priest of Isis. When Nidia beseeches Isis for help in capturing Glaucus' heart, Arbace gives her a "love" potion, which really will affect his mind and not his heart, thus opening the way to Jone for himself. When Arbace's disciple is murdered Glaucus finds himself in hot water, shortly after which Mt. Vesuvius erupts.

  • PART ONE: Glaucus, a handsome and wealthy Athenian nobleman, living in the city of Pompeii, is the sweetheart of Ione, a Grecian girl of great beauty. Ione's brother, Apaecides, a young man of religious tendencies, is the pupil of Arbaces, a crafty, lewd, and unscrupulous Egyptian, high priest of the Temple of Isis. Arbaces has ever nourished an intense but unworthy love for Ione. The Egyptian despises the handsome Glaucus as his rival and plots his downfall. Nydia is a sweet-minded Thessalian flower girl, cursed with blindness at birth and madly loving Glaucus whom she has never seen, but whose kindly voice and ever-ready purse have many times lightened the hand of her cruel mistress, Stratonice, wife of Burbo, an innkeeper. With his friend, Sallust, Glaucus one evening goes to the tavern of Burbo to place bets on the coming gladiatorial contests. He there purchases Nydia from Burbo, after seeing the blind girl frightfully whipped by Stratonice. He takes her to his home. PART TWO: Arbaces writes a letter to Ione, suggesting that she come and visit him, and intimating that his magic can show her the falsity of Glaucus. Ione accepts the invitation and the Egyptian conjures up a vision, in which Ione sees Glaucus making love to other women. Overcome by emotion, Arbaces embraces her. An instant later he is felled by the heavy hand of Apaecides. Ione flees to the home of Glaucus, where Nydia, her heart torn with jealousy, ministers to the stricken girl. Meanwhile, Apaecides, his faith shattered, prepares to denounce Arbaces and renounce the creed of Isis. PART THREE: The following morning. Nydia goes to the Temple of Isis to seek solace for her aching heart. She meets Arbaces and confides her love to him. The crafty Egyptian promises to secure from the witch of Vesuvius a love potion, which, if administered to Glaucus, should make him love Nydia forever. Meanwhile, Glaucus and Ione, while strolling on the mountainside, are caught by the rain and seek refuge in the witch's cave. Glaucus brings down the curse of the sorceress by killing her sacred reptile and the lovers leave the cave in panic. Arbaces enters and has little trouble inducing the witch to give him a potion that "shall sear and blast the brain, to make him idiot, raving mad, while yet the heart beats on." PART FOUR: Nydia meets Arbaces, secures the "love potion" and gives it to Glaucus. The insane man rushes through the streets, reeling from side to side. Meanwhile, Apaecides has had a stormy scene with the Egyptian and goes forth to cool his fevered brain, to the seashore. Arbaces follows and murders him. At that instant the staggering form of Glaucus is seen, and the wary Egyptian promptly seizes him and, calling loudly for help, charges Glaucus with murder. Nydia, who, terror-stricken, had followed Glaucus, is seized by the Egyptian and carried away to his dungeons. Glaucus is haled before the Senate and condemned to die by wild beasts in the arena at the coming games. PART FIVE: The great day finally arrives, and the mighty stands are crowded with thousands of gay Pompeiians intent upon seeing the rare spectacle of a Patrician thrown to the lions. In her dungeon, Nydia plans escape. She plays upon the superstitions of her negro keeper and succeeds in locking him in her cell. Conscious that it had all been her fault, the blind girl frantically makes her way to the home of Sallust, friend of Glaucus, who had remained home from the great spectacle. PART SIX: The great spectacle was at its height. There had been parades of the gladiators and the people had howled themselves hoarse over the valor of the gladiatorial combats. Everything was in readiness for the great feature of the day's sport, the death of Glaucus. Already the people yelled impatiently, "Glaucus to the lions," and the Athenian was given a short sword and roughly pushed into the Arena. The hunger-maddened lions sprang from their cages. Suddenly the wild, disheveled form of Sallust appeared, leaping from the boxes and shouting hoarsely, "Remove Glaucus the Athenian. He is innocent. There stands the Murderer." A guttural roar went up from the assembled thousands, in which could be heard excited cries of "Arbaces to the Lions, Arbaces to the Lions." At that instant the sky suddenly darkened and from distant Vesuvius there shot into the sky a shaft of hellish fire. Panic seized the multitude and pandemonium reigned. In the confusion Arbaces escaped. The frightful catastrophe restored the reason of the demented Glaucus. He felt the touch of Nydia's hand in his and felt her leading him through the blinding hall of cinders to the home of Ione. They found Ione prepared for death, but the gentle Nydia led them both through the Stygian darkness to the Temple of Isis. Here they met the distracted Arbaces and saw him crushed to death by a falling pillar of his own idolatrous church. Then, in a blackness where only the blind could see, Nydia guided the two lovers to the seashore. Knowing them safely aboard, Nydia suddenly threw herself into the waters of the bay. Her love-task ended, the blind girl at last found the eternal rest she sought.

  • Two love triangles intersect in ancient Pompei.


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