After Emperor Nero (Charles Laughton) blames the Christians for burning Rome, he orders that they be sent to the Colosseum. While rounding them up, military leader Marcus Superbus (Fredric March) meets pretty young Mercia (Elissa Landi), who begs him to free her stepfather, Titus (Arthur Hohl). Marcus does so with the hope of seducing her but is unsuccessful. Empress Poppaea (Claudette Colbert), who has her eye on Marcus, soon learns of Mercia and, out of jealousy, orders her fed to the lions.
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