Judah spends three years shackled to an oar of a Roman flagship.
During a battle in which their ship is rammed, Judah escapes,
but not before he saves the life of the Roman commander, Quintus
Arius. Thankful to Judah for saving his life, Arius frees Judah and
adopts him as his son.
After three years as a galley slave, Ben-Hur is assigned to the flagship of the Roman Consul Quintus Arrius (Jack Hawkins), who has been charged with destroying a fleet of Macedonian pirates. Arrius admires Ben-Hur's determination and self-discipline and offers to train him as a gladiator or charioteer.
The Roman fleet encounters the Macedonians. Arrius orders all the rowers except Ben-Hur to be chained to their oars. Arrius' galley is rammed and sunk, but Ben-Hur unchains the other rowers, and rescues Arrius from the sinking wreckage. In despair, Arrius wrongly believes the battle ended in defeat and atones in the Roman way by "falling on his sword", but Ben-Hur prevents him from committing suicide. Ben-Hur and Arrius are rescued, and Arrius is credited with the Roman fleet's victory.
The prefect Sejanus orders the Roman Quintus Arrius to take warships to combat the pirates. Arrius is impressed by Judah and decides to question him about his life and his story. He is stunned to learn of Judah's former status as a son of Hur. In battle, the ship is damaged and starts to sink. Arrius unlocks Judah's chains so he has a chance to survive, and Judah ends up saving the Roman from drowning. They share a plank as a makeshift raft until being rescued by a Roman ship, whereupon they learn that the Romans were victorious in the battle; Arrius is lauded as a hero.
In the next post, I will compare the respective character arcs of Tilly and Arrius with each other.