The Centurion (Conqueror of Corinth) (1961)

 

 

 

 

Director:     Mario Costa.

Starring:     Jacques Sernas (Caius Vinicius),  John Drew Barrymore (Diaeus),  Genevive Grad (Hebe),  Gianna Maria Canale (Artemide),  Gordon Mitchell (Gen. Metellus),  Gianni Santuccio (Critolaus),  Nando Tamberlani (Callicrates),   Ivano Staccioli (Hippolytus),  Andrea Fantasia (Lucius Mummius),  Gianni Solaro (Caesar),  Jos Jaspe (Traitor),  Vassili Karis (Egeo),  Dina De Santis (Chimene),  Milena Vukotic (Ancella), Adriana Vianello (Cleo).

Battle of Corinth (146 BC)

 

 

Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire film.

"In the year 146 BC Greece was held within the sphere of Roman influence.  But the Achaean League -  a loose federation of the Greek city-states refused to face the twilight of the ancient glory of Greece, and, instead, closed ranks behind Critolaus, governor of Corinth, the most fanatic of advocates for open rebellion against Rome."

Critolaus says that Corinth is not a province of Rome.  Diaeus tells the beautiful blonde Hebe, the daughter of Critolaus, that he wants to talk to her in private.  Good news arrives for Critolaus.  Rome is in peril before Carthage; the war against Iberia saps their strength; and Rome is having trouble in Libya.  There is a little debate whether Rome is weakened enough to rebel safely against or whether Rome is still too powerful to rebel against.  An older gentleman named Callicrates maintains that Rome is still too strong for Corinth to oppose.  Critolaus questions the man's patriotism. 

Critolaus mentions that he wants Diaeus to succeed him as governor.  Right now Diaeus is the vice-governor.  Diaeus really likes Hebe and wants to marry her.  But Hebe tells him he must be satisfied with friendship.  Diaeus asks her if there is another man?  Hebe tells him no. 

Rome tells Corinth to break with the Aegean League, but Critolaus sees this as an insult and rejects the idea.  The ambassador from Rome warns Diaeus and the others against rebellion.  Critolaus is still not concerned about Rome and declares the independence of Corinth.  Diaeus says:  "Freedom is ours to take."  Outside the Corinthians start attacking the Roman delegation. 

Diaeus has a large collection of snakes.  Critolaus, however, doesn't like snakes.  A roughed up man is brought in and accused of being a traitor to Corinth.  The man says he was only trying to bring peace to the land.  The "traitor" is thrown into the snake pit where he is killed. 

A wounded Roman soldier seeks shelter in a Corinthian house.  He goes into the garden of the home and collapses there.  The house is that of Hebe and her father.  Hebe finds the centurion and decides to mend his wound.  Hebe says that the only one who can be trusted to hide the Roman is Callicrates.  He comes.  His wife is also there.  Her name is Artimide.  She takes a liking to the handsome centurion.  When the Roman becomes stronger, he tells Hebe that she saved his life.

Callicrates tells Critolaus that he should apologize to the Roman senate.  Critolaus just become very angry at Callicrates.  He believes that Greece needs another Alexander the Great. The leader also says that death awaits anyone who gets in his way.

The name of the wounded centurion is Caius Vinicius.  Callicrates tells the centurion that he is afraid for Corinth.  He asks the Roman if he would intercede for Corinth in the Roman senate?  Callicrates assures Caius that they can get him safely back to Rome.  Back in Rome Metallus takes the position that they must use force on Corinth.  They will destroy Corinth as a lesson to the others. 

Artemide really likes Caius, but he will not return her affection.  He tells her:  "You are the wife of a man to whom I owe a great deal."  Artemide says that she does not love her husband. 

Caius is to embark at dawn tomorrow.  He takes Hebe for a walk in the garden.  Hebe tells him that everything seems to conspire to keep them apart.  Caius swears to her that he will be back for her and "then we will never be separated again."  Artemide is crushed and mad at Caius. 

Artemide decides to get revenge on Caius.  She goes to Diaeus and tells him that a Roman centurion is hidden in a house in Rome.  His name is Caius Vinicius and he is the commander of the escort for the Roman royal ambassador to Corinth.  She says that Hebe loves Caius and is the one who hid him.  She is also planning for Caius to escape from Corinth.  But Artemide says she will not tell Diaeus where the embarkation point is  unless Diaeus promises not to kill Caius.  She says:  "I will dispose of him."  Diaeus agrees to her conditions. 

The next morning the Corinthians capture Caius as he waits on the sea shore. 

Hebe intervenes on Caius's behalf with Diaeus.  She has fallen in love with the centurion.  Hebe tells Diaeus that if he can get Caius out of Corinth and back to Rome, she will never try to see him again.  Moreover, she offers to marry Diaeus to save Caius.  Diaeus kisses Hebe. 

Callicrates wants to know who betrayed Caius.  He talks with Hebe and tells her not to sacrifice herself  -- don't marry Diaeus.  Meanwhile, the Romans sail to Greece in a great number of ships. 

Artemide goes to see Caius in his jail cell.  She tells him she can get him out of Corinth, but he and she will go together to Rome.  Caius tells her that the Corinthians sent her to him and it was she who betrayed him.  Artemide tells him:  "You will go with me or die."  She then tells Caius that Hebe is marrying Diaeus.  Moreover, she is going to kill Hebe with her own hands.  And Caius will be executed. 

Diaeus agrees with Artmide that he will have Caius executed.  But he will not do this until he and Hebe are married. 

Callicrates meets with his supporters. 

Diaeus gets a little fresh with Hebe and justifies it by saying that she is his betrothed.  He also tells her that he has already arranged for Caius to escape.   

A messenger arrives:  the Roman troops have landed on the isthmus south of Luccapetra.  Critolaus says that the Corinthians will give the Romans a taste of their Grecian steel. 

With the help of a hot branding iron, Diaeus tries to get Caius to talk about where Callicrates and his supporters will meet. 

Critolaus sets up a plan to trap the Romans and he will not listen to any advice from anyone else.  He says that they will have twice the number of men than the Romans will have.

Critolaus disperses his forces and this will help the Romans.  The overall Roman leader, the uncle of Caius, Lucius Quintus, will lead the cavalry and Metallus will lead the regular troops.

The two forces face each other.  Soon both sides attack the other.  After awhile, the Roman cavalry attacks.  The leader of the Corinthian dispersed unit says to Critolaus that he and his men had to retire from the valley.  So now Critolaus charges with his cavalry.  The two cavalries start fighting each other.  After awhile, the Corinthians have to retreat.    The Romans chase after them. As the Corinthians continue running, the Romans declare victory.  Metellus speaks to his troops and tells them that they must not show the enemy mercy.  They have to bury the mad dreams of Critolaus under the ruins of Corinth. 

Critolaus tells his people to expect a long and painful siege.  Diaeus tells Critolaus that Hebe has disappeared and Caius has escaped. 

A messenger comes to Callicrates saying that a battle occurred near Luccapetra.  And now the Romans are about to take Cornith.  Caius tells Callicrates that he will help them.  He will go speak to his uncle. 

To his uncle Caius explains Callicrates's position that it is not the people of Corinth that are the enemies of Rome, but the government of Corinth.  He adds that Corinth is in the process of surrendering and Callicrates is about to depose Critolaus.  So uncle agrees to delay the attack on Corinth.  Caius also tells his uncle that he can show them a way to enter the city without a fight. 

Caius's plans are changed when Callicrates and his followers are attacked by the men serving Diaeus.  Diaeus's men kill most of the followers of Callicrates.  Hebe begs Diaeus to spare the life of Callicrates.  Diaeus seems to agree, but then quickly kills Callicrates.  Hebe shouts in disbelief:  "No!  Murderer!" 

When Callicrates does not show up, the decision is made to begin the Roman assault.  Caius shows them the secret passage into the fortress.

When Diaeus sees Hebe he tells her that she has betrayed Corinth.  He adds:  "Now I wouldn't even touch you."  As the Romans enter Corinth, Diaeus chains Hebe to the wall in the snake pit.  She shouts at him:  "You're vile, vile!  My father will kill you."   Then she begs him not to leave her in this place.  "Have mercy!" she shouts.

The Romans are already inside the fortress.  And now the Romans outside break through the gates of the fortress and start pouring into Corinth. 

Caius goes to find Callicrates and his men.  He finds his men dead.  He keeps looking for Callicrates and finds him near death.  He only gets to ask him one question:  What happened to Hebe?  Callicrates says:  "Diaeus."  He dies. 

Caius goes to kill Diaeus.  Diaeus is just about to kill Hebe at the snake pit.  Caius arrives and the two men fight each other with swords.  Diaeus releases his snakes.  Caius then stabs Diaeus and he falls into the pit.  Hebe cries for Caius to help her.  The snakes start climbing all over Diaeus.  Caius releases Hebe and gets her out of the snake pit.  Hebe asks:  "What about my father?" 

Critolaus sits alone, depressed.  When Hebe and Caius come in, Critolaus tells Caius that he is waiting for the death blow.  Caius tells him:  "I am here not to kill you, but to save you."  Critolaus tells Caius to take Hebe and get away.  Caius follows his orders and takes Hebe away with him. 

 

This is an okay drama.  At least the picture quality is better than those of the other B "swords and sandals" movies.  The film is a bit short, but that didn't bother me.

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

 


Historical Background:

 

Corinth is located on the Isthmus of Corinth which is the narrow stretch of land that joins the Peloponnesus to the mainland of Greece and is 48 miles southwest of Athens.

146 AD - Roman consul Mummius at the head of 23,000 infantry and 3,500 cavalry advanced into the Peloponnese against the revolutionary government of the Achaean League in general and Corinth in particular.

Achaean general Diaeus had 14,000 infantry and 600 cavalry.

The Achaeans inflict heavy casualties on the Roman camp in a night attack.

The actual battle begins.

The Achaean cavlry, heavily outnumbered, retreats before engaging the Roman cavalry.

The Achaean infantry perform much better. But then a select group of Roman soldiers charges their flank and the Achaean infantry breaks. Diaios flees to Arcadia.

Before burning the city, Mummius puts all the men to the sword and sells the women and children into slavery.  Corinth is then virtually obliterated after the Romans grab their treasures and art.

 

 

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