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Aesop takes a break from spinning fables to help a king and fall in love.
In 560 B.C., Aesop of the Greek Isle of Samos sails into the main port of the kingdom of Lydia, where great excitement surrounds the impending arrival of Princess Delerai of Persia, who has agreed to marry King Croesus to prevent war. Prior to Delerai's arrival, Croesus meets with his chamberlain, Leonides, to discuss what to do about Queen Attossa of Phrygia, from whom he has accepted a chest of pearls as a wedding troth. Leonides advises Croesus to keep the pearls and send a message to Attossa that the ship baring the jewels was lost at sea. Meanwhile, the beautiful Delerai and Aesop arrive at court simultaneously and the princess is taken aback to find that the famous wiseman is a withered old peasant in rags. When Aesop informs Croesus that Samos can make no monetary tribute to Lydia, but only an offer of trade, the insulted king angrily orders Aesop's execution. Delerai, however, recognizes Aesop's reknown and pleads to have him spared. In Phrygia, through the use of sorcery, Attossa discovers Croeses's deceit in refusing her marriage offer and begins haunting the Lydian king, hoping to drive him mad as revenge. After some days of Attossa's torments, Croesus, in desperation, turns to Aesop for assistance, and the wiseman advises that he conquor Attossa through will power. When Croesus succeeds in driving Attossa away, he is pleased enough to make Aesop his confidant, unaware that the old man has fallen in love with Delerai. Although appalled at Aesop's declaration of love, Delerai continues to put off Croesus' demand that she set a wedding date. As Aesop grows despondent over Delerai's aloofness, Attossa begins haunting him, tempting him to do away with Croesus in order to win Delerai. Leonides, resentful of Aesop's new influence with Croesus, schemes with Delerai to place the wiseman in a compromising situation that will ruin his standing with the king. As part of their plan, Delerai sends for Aesop late one night, ostensibly to interpret a charm, but he has grown wary by the hour of the summons. As Aesop hesitates, Attossa taunts him about his dishonesty, which prompts him to send a handsome young man to Delerai in his place. The young man introduces himself to a startled Delerai as Jason, and, interpreting her amulet, predicts that her vanity will destroy her unless she humbles herself to a lowly, common man. When Delerai realizes that Jason's prophesy suggests Aesop, she faints, but upon reviving, recognizes that Jason is Aesop and acknowledges that she is in love with him. When Delerai asks why he disguises himself as an old man, Aesop explains that it is difficult for a young man to be accepted as a sage. Meanwhile, the spirit of Attossa again torments Croesus by revealing that Delerai mocks him by falling in love with Aesop. Outside Delerai's apartment, Leonides waits for her previously agreed upon summons in vain and when he bursts into the room, finds Delerai alone. Croesus arrives at the same moment and is deeply offended that Leonides should accuse Delerai of improper conduct and orders his execution. The next day when Delerai tells Aesop she intends to refuse to marry Croesus, he advises against it, for fear that the king will invade both Samos and Persia in revenge. Aesop then rushes to stop Leonides' execution, thus causing the chamberlain to be indebted to him. Attossa continues to plague Croesus with implications that Aesop and Delerai are in love, and the king's suspicions and jealousy grow. When Croesus pressures Delerai to marry him immediately, she refuses, and upon consultation with a priest, Croesus learns that Aesop is not who he appears to be. Croesus then bans Aesop from Lydia and prepares to make war on Samos, but Aesop pleads with him to consult the oracle at Delphi before taking action. Croesus agrees to abide by Apollo's decision and Aesop goes to Delphi disguised as a Lydian ambassador and pays off the oracle's high priest to predict Lydia's triumph. When Croesus finds Delerai missing from the palace, Attossa informs him she is with Aesop at Delphi. Unaware that Delerai is at Delphi, Aesop, in his old man disguise, tries to bribe the priest Cleomenes to allow him to go to the oracle to hear Apollo's decision. When Cleomenes refuses, Aesop kills him and attends the oracle in the priest's robes. The high priest prophesizes that Samos will be saved, and just as Aesop attempts to slip away from the ceremony, Delerai is brought before the priests. Aesop attempts to intervene, only to have his disguise revealed. When he angrily chastises the priests for mocking the oracle by giving desperate prophecies, they respond by ordering his and Delerai's death for blasphemy. Croesus arrives before the execution and Aesop informs him that the Delphi priests are only interested in his money, not in truth. Creosus offers to save Delerai, but she insists on remaining with Aesop, so Croesus gives them both up in disgust. The couple is forced off a cliff into the sea, but Attossa intervenes and saves them from death. Their survival and subsequent happy marriage succeeds in driving Croesus mad, fulfilling Attossa's quest for revenge.
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||Premiere Info:||not available|
|Release Date:||1946||Production Date:||
|Color/B&W:||Color (Technicolor)||Distributions Co:||Universal Pictures Company, Inc.|
|Sound:||Mono||Production Co:||Universal Pictures Company, Inc.|
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Anachronistic, in the least
Ron Kerrigan 2012-01-20
A strange mixture of banal and jarring dialogue, bargain-basement sets, unbelievable situations and an A-list female lead add up to an interesting but...
Oberon & Bey!!
Neal K 2008-07-17
A marvelous fantasy in the ancient world: Aesop, togas, Greek beauties......