An overlong, though sometimes engrossing, spectacle that attempts to chronicle the bloody transitional period following the death of Marcus Aurelius (Guinness). Philosopher-emperor Guinness calls a meeting of his family clan and supporters at his fortress in Germany. He confides to
daughter Loren that he intends to make his adopted son, Boyd, the new emperor upon his death, instead of his legal heir, Plummer. Blind soothsayer Ferrer, who is one of Plummer's cronies, overhears Guinness and poisons him. Following Guinness' death, Loren tells Boyd of the dead emperor's wishes,
but he spurns the throne and allows the strutting Plummer to become Rome's new Caesar. The e...