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Rome, the Eternal Story: From Ben Hur to The Eagle
Posted January 21, 2011 to photo album "Rome, the Eternal Story: From Ben Hur to The Eagle"
The Eagle explores a part of ancient Roman history rarely seen on stage. But the history of Rome changes throughout history as well.
Slide 4: Ben Hur, the great American/Roman Novel
Lew Wallace, author of Ben-Hur, one of the world’s most famous literary fanchises.
One of the first Roman films was based Lew Wallace’s 1880 novel Ben Hur: The Tale of Christ. This novel tells the story Judah Ben-Hur, a Jewish prince, who has quite an adventure: after being condemned as a galley slave, he meets Jesus, is shipwrecked, wins a chariot race, comforts the crucified Christ, and goes on to Rome to set up the Christian Church. Ben Hur became the first novel to be blessed by a pope, Leo XIII (1810-1903). This opinion was not shared by the New York Times, whose critic in 1905 wrote, “Ben Hur appealed to the unsophisticated and unliterary. People who read much else of worth rarely read Ben Hur.” The book also held the honor as the best-selling novel in America until 1936 when Margaret Mitchell published Gone with the Wind. (After the release of the 1960 film with Charlton Heston, the novel regained its “America’s best-selling novel” distinction). Since its publication the books had five film adaptations: 1907, 1925, 1959, 2004 and 2010 (a Canadian miniseries in which the “sandal and sword” swashbuckling eclipses the love of Christ.) Unfortunately the book’s author, who was serving as the Governor of New Mexico when he wrote it, died in 1905, two years before the first film.