Roman senator Marcus Gallio is worried because his son, young tribune Marcellus, has incurred the wrath of the corrupt Prince Gaius. Gaius vindictively orders Marcellus to a remote desert outpost in Minoa (Palestine). Marcellus and his loyal Corinthian slave, Demetrius, must fight to earn the respect of the garrison at Minoa, but eventually they do. During Passover, their detachment goes to Jerusalem to make a show of force, and Demetrius makes eye contact with Jesus while entering the city and is mesmerized. Marcellus, put in charge of the Crucifixion, wins Jesus’ robe at dice but becomes so depressed following the event that he can barely function.
Meanwhile, Diana, a beautiful young friend of the Gallio family who is a favorite of Emperor Tiberius and admired by Marcellus, persuades the emperor to recall Marcellus from Minoa. His family, however, is so alarmed by Marcellus’s condition that they send him and Demetrius to Athens to recover. In Athens, Marcellus touches the robe again and is healed. Demetrius confides the story to Theodosia, their landlord’s daughter. The two men learn about Jewish theology from Benjamin, the Jew who mends the robe for them and also teaches them to speak Aramaic.
Tiberius, interested in the metaphysical, orders Marcellus back to Palestine to learn more about the Jesus movement. Demetrius, who attacks a Roman tribune who has insulted Theodosia, must go into hiding, so the two young men are separated....
(The entire section is 583 words.)