I've just enjoyed an audio reading of Ben-Hur, it is an epic tale of betrayal and revenge set during the time of the Christ. Judah Ben-Hur is a Jewish prince who is betrayed by his childhood Roman friend Messala, and sentenced to life as a galley slave - which wouldn't be long, as most galley slaves lived only a few years - Ben-Hur's mother and sister disappear, and the family property is confiscated.
Through a series of circumstances, Ben-Hur escapes from the ship he is sentenced to and is adopted by a Roman friend of his late father. Life could be good, but Ben-Hur is tortured by the incident which changed his life and the cruel betrayal by his friend. Messala really is the pits, as a child he was taken into the family home, yet now he sets out to remove all trace of the Ben-Hur family. Judah's mother and sister are entombed in a leprosy infected cell for eight years, and upon their release they are stoned and sent outside the town's gates. Their tale is so so sad.