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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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Sophocles was an ancient Greek poet and one of three ancient Greek tragedians whose plays have survived. His plays belonged to the period after Aeschylus and earlier of Euripides. Based on the information provided by Suda, a 10th century encyclopedia, Sophocles wrote 123 plays during his lifetime, out of which only seven have survived in a complete form. These plays are Ajax, Antigone, Trachinian Women, Oedipus the King, Electra, Philoctetes and Oedipus at Colonus. It was believed that he remained the most celebrated playwright in the dramatic competitions of the city-state of Athens held during the religious festivals of the Lenaea and the Dionysia. Sophocles participated in thirty competitions, of which he won 24 and never went below second place in the rest. Among his plays, the two most famous tragedies, Oedipus and Antigone are generally known as the Theban plays, even though each play belonged to a part of a different tetralogy. Sophocles greatly influenced the drama. His main contribution was the addition of third actor which reduced the importance of the chorus in the presentation of the plot. A crater on the surface of Mercury has been after this ace Greek poet and playwright.
Sophocles Childhood and Life
Sophocles was the son of Sophilus, who was a rich member of the rural deme (small community) of Colonus Hippius. Sophocles was said to have been born in Attica. It is said that he was born few years before the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC, which is probably around 497/6 BC. Sophocles received his first artistic achievement in 468 BC, when he won first prize in the Dionysia theatre competition over the reigning master of Athenian drama, Aeschylus. According to Greek historian Plutarch, this victory was quite unusual. Unlike the usual custom of choosing judges by lot, the archon asked Cimon and the other strategoi present to decide the victor of the contest. According to him after being defeated, Aeschylus left for Sicily. “Triptolemus” was one amongst the plays that Sophocles presented at this festival. When Sophocles was sixteen, he was chosen to lead the paean, a choral chant to a God, celebrating the Greek victory over the Persians at the Battle of Salamis. He was one of the ten strategoi, high executive officials that commanded the armed forces and was the junior colleague of Pericles.
In the beginning of his career, Sophocles received patronage from the politician Cimon. Even when Cimon was ostracized by Pericles (Cimon's rival) in 461 BC, Sophocles received no harm. In 443/ 442 he became one of the Hellenotamiai, or treasurers of Athena, and had the role to assist managing the finances of the city during the political ascendancy of Pericles. Based on the accounts of the Vita Sophoclis, he served as a general in the Athenian campaign against Samos in 441 BC. It was believed that Sophocles received this post because of his writing of Antigone. In 420 BC, when Asclepius was introduced to Athens, he welcomed it and set up an altar for the image of deity at his house. In 413, Sophocles was elected one of the commissioners who reacted to the catastrophic destruction of the Athenian expeditionary force in Sicily during the Peloponnesian War.
Sophocles first married to Nicostrata, with whom he had a son named Iophon. In the later life, he had relationship with a woman of Sicyon. She bore him a son called Ariston. It was believed that he had three more sons, but there is not much information about them.
In the winter of 406/ 405 BC, Sophocles died at the age of ninety or ninety one. Like the other famous men from the ancient history, his death also inspired many apocryphal stories. One of the stories states that he died from the strain of trying to recite a long sentence from his play, “Antigone” without pausing to take a breath. Whereas the other story suggests that he choked to death while eating grapes at the Anthesteria festival in Athens. The third story accounts that he died due to excessive happiness over winning his final victory at the City Dionysia.
The earliest contribution of Sophocles to the drama was the introduction of the third actor which immensely reduced the role of the chorus and created better opportunities for character development and conflict between characters. Even his competitor Aeschylus, who dominated Athenian playwrights during Sophocles' early career, accepted the new idea and adopted it into his own work towards the end of his life. Aristotle gave Sophocles the credit of the introduction of skenographia, or scenery-painting. After the death of Aeschylus in 456 BC, Sophocles became the celebrated playwright in Athens. He emerged victorious in different dramatic competitions, 18 at Dionysia and 6 at Lenaea festivals. Apart from making innovations in the dramatic structure, he was also known for his deeper development of characters than the earlier playwrights. His widespread reputation helped him to get invitation from foreign rulers to attend their courts, but unlike other playwrights Aeschylus who died in Sicily, or Euripides who spent time in Macedon, he never accepted any of these invitations.
Sophocles works were influential and significant for the Greek culture. Two out of his seven plays can be estimated correctly to their exact dates, which namely are “Philoctetes” (409 BC) and “Oedipus at Colonus” (401 BC, staged after his death by his grandson). From the rest of his plays, “Electra” had striking similarities to these two plays which put forwards the fact that it was written in the later part of his literary career. Again based on the stylistic characteristics of “Oedipus the King” which came in his middle period, “Ajax”, “Antigone” and “The Trachiniae” belonged to his early days. Sophocles had also written three Theban plays namely, “Oedipus the King”, “Oedipus at Colonus” and “Antigone”. All these plays described the fate of Thebes during and after the reign of King Oedipus. These plays were sometimes even published under a single cover. Sophocles had written these plays in separate festival competitions with several years of difference between them. They cannot be called trilogy because of the presence of inconsistencies among them. Apart from these, Sophocles is supposed to have written few more Theban plays such as such as “The Progeny”, which survived in fragments. The majority of his plays depicted the undercurrent of early fatalism and the offset of Socratic logic being the keystone for the long tradition of Greek tragedy.
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