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udah Ben-Hur lives in Jerusalem with his mother Ruth,sister Tirzah and his friend Messala,illegitimate son of the patrician Roman Marcellus who has virtually disowned the boy. On reaching manhood Messala becomes an officer in the Roman army and is part of a parade headed by governor Pontius Pilate which will march in triumph through Jerusalem to show Roman power. Judah's family watch but accidentally dislodge a tile from the roof which hits Pilate. The family steward David,a Zealot,exploits the accident to start a riot. Seeking to show the governor his power Messala has the family arrested. The women are imprisoned and Simonides,father of Judah's betrothed Esther,crucified - though he survives. Judah is sent as a galley slave in chains and on his way to the ship encounters Jesus. After three years as a galley slave Judah's intelligence impresses the admiral,wealthy Roman Quintus Arrius,and when the ship is involved in a battle with pirates Arrius has Judah's chains unlocked. Ony Judah and Arrius survive the attack,the young slave saving the older man's life and when they are ultimately rescued Arrius makes Judah his son,renaming him Sextus Arrius.

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