Eclair's When Rome Ruled was an opulent if not entirely successful imitation of the Italian "epic" films then flooding the American market. Mabel Taliaferro stars as Nydia, an Early Christian girl seemingly singled out for exclusive persecution by the despotic empress of Rome. The empress' ire seems to have been aroused by the fact that her erstwhile sweetheart, handsome centurion Caius (a very young Ernest Truex) is in love with Nydia. The obligatory "throwing the Christians to the lions" scene was a disappointment, especially since the lions seemed bored at the prospect of gnawing the writhing extras. Director George Fitzmaurice would later display considerably more skill at staging action scenes in such films as Son of the Sheik.
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