Captured by pirates, purchased by Marcus Cornelius Scipio of Pompeii, Pheidias of Athens comes to appreciate his former freedom as he regrets abuse of his former slave, also to hope for another reversal of fortune. Lady Hestia is liberal but Aper, overseer and master gladiator, threatens regularly, even insists the boy witness the spectacular confrontation between two half-starved wolves and his best friend Demos (for Demosthenes, a nickname because he stutters). What intervenes? Vesuvius. The good guys get away with Lady Hestia, eventually reach Athens where Pheidias virtuously frees his slave (and Demos has miraculously recovered normal speech). A limp polysyllabic lesson, a classic case of explication rather than exposure.