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In Britannia, 62 AD, a tribe of Celtic horsemen are brutally wiped out by Romans led by Corvus (Kiefer Sutherland). The only survivor is a boy named Milo, whose mother was killed personally by Corvus. The boy is captured by slave traders. Seventeen years later, in 79 A.D., a slave owner named Graecus (Joe Pingue) watches a class of gladiators battle. He is unimpressed until he sees the grown Milo (Kit Harington), a talented gladiator the crowds call "the Celt". Milo is soon brought to Pompeii with his fellow slaves. On the road, they see a horse fall while leading a carriage carrying Cassia (Emily Browning), returning after a year in Rome, and her servant Ariadne (Jessica Lucas). Milo kills the horse to end its suffering and Cassia is drawn to him. Cassia is the daughter of the city ruler Severus (Jared Harris) and his wife Aurelia (Carrie-Anne Moss). Severus is hoping to have the new Emperor Titus invest in plans to rebuild Pompeii but Cassia warns him of Rome becoming more corrupt. A servant named Felix (Dalmar Abuzeid) takes Cassia’s horse for a ride only to be swallowed up when a quake from Mount Vesuvius opens up the ground under him.
In Pompeii, Milo soon develops a rivalry with Atticus (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), a champion gladiator who, by Roman law, will be given his freedom after he earns one more victory. The gladiators are shown off at a party where Corvus, now a Senator, tells Severus the Emperor will not invest in his plans but he himself will. It is revealed Cassia left Rome to escape Corvus’s advances. When an earthquake causes some horses to become anxious, Milo helps calm one down. He then takes Cassia on a ride, telling her that they cannot be together. Returning to the villa, Corvus is ready to kill Milo (not recognizing him from the village massacre) but Cassia pleads for his life. Milo is lashed for his actions and Atticus admits respect for his rival as they prepare to face each other at the upcoming festival.
In the Amphitheatre of Pompeii, to punish Milo, Corvus orders him killed in the first battle and wicked trainer Bellator (Currie Graham) convinces Graecus to sacrifice Atticus as well. The two men, and other gladiators, are chained to rocks as other gladiators come out as Roman soldiers, to recreate Corvus’s victory over the Celts. Working together, Milo and Atticus survive the battle; Atticus realizes the Romans will never honor his freedom. During the battle, Corvus forces Cassia to agree to marry him by threatening to have her family killed for supposed treason against the Emperor. When Milo and Atticus win, Cassia defies Corvus by holding a “thumbs-up” for them to live and he has her taken to the villa to be locked up. Claiming an earthquake is a sign from Vulcan, Corvus has his officer Proculus (Sasha Roiz) fight Milo one-on-one. Their battle is interrupted when Mount Vesuvius erupts, creating massive tremors that causes the arena to collapse, sending Milo and Proculus crashing to the jail levels. Milo opens up the gates to allow his fellow gladiators a chance to attack; Proculus escapes while the gladiators kill Bellator. Seeing Corvus fallen under a collapsed beam, Severus tries to kill him, but Corvus stabs him and escapes.
The eruption causes flaming debris to rain down upon the city as the populace tries to flee to the harbor. One fireball destroys a ship, killing the escaping Graecus. Aurelia tells Milo that Cassia is at the villa before dying. Milo races to the villa and manages to save Cassia, but Ariadne is killed when the villa collapses into the sea. Corvus and Proculus kill civilians blocking their path to safety. Atticus tries to reach the harbor, but a tsunami created by the volcano smashes into the city, destroying the outer walls and smashing several ships. In the ensuing chaos, Atticus saves a mother and her young daughter, the trio running safely into the inner city as a ship brought in by the tsunami blocks the water from flooding the inner walls. Reuniting with Atticus, Milo suggests searching the arena for horses to escape. As the gladiators face Roman soldiers at the arena, Cassia sees to the bodies of her parents, only to be abducted by Corvus. Atticus has Milo chase after the chariot carrying the two while he faces off against Proculus. In the following duel, Atticus is mortally wounded, but he manages to break the blade and uses it to kill Proculus.
Milo chases Corvus across the city, both barely avoiding fireballs and collapsing roads and buildings. Cassia manages to free herself before the chariot crashes into the Temple of Apollo. Milo and Corvus duel as a fireball destroys the temple. Cassia chains Corvus to a building as Milo declares that his gods are coming to punish the Senator. Milo and Cassia ride off as Corvus is incinerated and killed by a pyroclastic surge that races down the volcano's slopes and into the city. As the surge approaches the arena, Atticus proudly meets his fate and proclaims that he dies a free man right before the surge consumes him. At the city outskirts, the horse throws off Milo and Cassia. Milo tells Cassia to leave alone, as the horse isn't fast enough to carry them both. Instead, she sends the horse off, not wanting to spend her last moments running as she knows that they will not survive or outrun the surge. Milo kisses Cassia as the pyroclastic surge engulfs them. The last shot is of the duo's petrified bodies, locked in an eternal embrace.
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Siva And The Birth Of The River Ganga
There came a sage whose name was Bhagīratha: he stayed in a forest of Himalaya practising terrible austerities. For a thousand years he remained with arms upraised, with four fires burning around, and with the sun blazing upon him. At last Brahma had compassion upon him. The Lord of All came to that sage and told him he could ask a boon as a reward for his austerities.
Then the sage said, "The boon I ask is that King Sagara's sixty thousand sons win to Indra's heaven. Their ashes lie far down in the earth. And until a water which is not the water of earth flows over the ashes and purifies them they cannot win to heaven." The Lord of All was pleased with what the sage asked, and the boon was granted.
And so Brahma promised that Gangā would descend upon earth. Now Gangā was the daughter of Himalaya, the Lord of Snow, and she had held herself back from leaving the heaven-world. She would leave at Brahma's command, but her downward rush would be so terrible that the earth would be dashed to pieces by it. Only one thing could save the earth from that tremendous stroke: if the head of Shiva received her stream the fall of Gangā upon earth would be broken.
For a year the sage worshipped Shiva. Then he was taken into Shiva's heaven and he saw the God with his four faces. Once Brahma had created a nymph out of all that is loveliest in the world, and he had sent her to Shiva so that her beauty might distract him from his eternal meditation. As she walked around where he stayed a face appeared at each side of the God: the faces looking east and west and north are beautiful and pleasant to behold, but the face looking south is terrible. With the face looking east Shiva rules the world; with the face looking west he delights all beings; with the face looking north he rejoices in the company of his wife Umā. But the face looking south is his face of destruction.
Shiva, moved by the prayers of the great ascetic, agreed to take the fall of Gangā upon his head. He went forth with his trident, and standing upon a high peak he bade the daughter of Himalaya descend upon the world. She was made angry by his imperious call. "I shall descend, and I will sweep Shiva away," she said. And so, in a mighty fall, Gangā came down from the heaven-world.
But Shiva, knowing what Gangā would have done, smiled to himself. He would shame her for her arrogance. He made her streams wander through the locks and clusters of his hair. For seasons and seasons Ganga wandered through them as through the forests of Himalaya, and she was made ashamed by her powerlessness to reach the earth.
Then the sage, not seeing the river come down, prayed to Shiva once more, and once more went through awful austerities. Shiva, for the sake of Bhagīratha, allowed Gangā to make her way through the locks and clusters of his hair and come down upon the earth.
In seven streams she descended. The Gods came in their golden chariots to watch that descent upon earth, and the flashing of their chariots made it seem as if a thousand suns were in the sky. Fish of all kind and colours, dolphins of every shape and hue, flashed in the river. And sages and saints came and purified themselves in the water, for the stream that had wandered upon Shiva's head made even the wicked pure. The Gladdener, the Purifier, the Lotus-clad, the Faireyed, were the names that were given to four of her seven streams. Three flowed to the east, three flowed to the west. The middle stream, the fullest, the clearest, flowed to where Bhagīratha waited in his chariot. He drove on, and where he drove, there did the bright, full, clear river flow.
On and on it flowed, following the chariot of the sage: now it was a sweeping current, and now it went on as though it was hardly able to bear on its wave the feather of the swan, and now full and calmly it flowed along. At last it came to the wide sea. There it sank down, and as it sank into the middle of the world the sage prayed that it would purify the ashes of King Sagara's sixty thousand sons.
In an age before, King Sagara and his sixty thousand sons had been on the earth. The king would have himself proclaimed a world-ruler, and that this might be done a steed was loosed and set to range the distances. All the land the steed ranged over would be proclaimed the king's domain, and when the steed returned it would be sacrificed to the Gods. But Sagara's steed was stolen and led down into the very middle of the earth. The king commanded his sixty thousand sons to find the steed and bring it back for the sacrifice.
They made their way down to the very middle of the earth. They went beyond where the Elephant of the East, the Elephant of the West, the Elephant of the South, and the great white Elephant of the North stand, bearing up the earth. These immortal ones they worshipped, and they passed on. At last they came to where Kapila, at the very centre of all things, sustains the world. There the steed was grazing. King Sagara's sixty thousand sons went to seize it, and as they did they attacked Kapila with trees and boulders, crying out that he was the robber of their father's steed.
As they came near he turned a flame upon them, and the sixty thousand sank down in heaps of ashes. Kapila went on with his meditation and thought no more upon the destruction he had brought upon King Sagara's sons. The king then sent his princely grandson to find die steed. He came down to the very middle of the earth. He passed the immortal elephants; he found the steed grazing near Kapila and he saw the heaps of ashes that were there. Then the bird Garuda that was flying there told him of what had befallen the sons of King Sagara, and told him, too, that they could win to Indra's heaven only when Gangā was brought down and made flow over their ashes.
The prince led the steed back to Sagara. He became king after his grandfather, and when his duties as king had been fulfilled he went into a forest of Himālaya and engaged in sacrifices to bring Gangā down from the heaven-world. After him his son engaged in sacrifices. Then his son's son, the sage Bhagīratha, engaged in austerities that had never before been known, and these austerities won Brahmā's compassion, and so, with the mighty aid of Shiva, Gangā was brought down upon the earth.
There where Kapila ponders, sustaining the world, Ganga flowed. The river went over the heaps of ashes that were the sons of King Sagara. They were purified, and the sixty thousand, rejoicing, went into the heaven of great Indra.
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