That statue of the god Moloch (who craved the blood of sacrificed children) put up at the Coliseum by people at the Vatican may be causing all kinds of controversy—I can’t believe the folks at Vatican City didn’t see *that* coming!—but having the horned horror on display there is hardly his first brush with modern fame. Moloch gets mentioned in John Milton’s PARADISE LOST and in H.G. Wells’s THE TIME MACHINE and features in the anti-religion criticisms of atheist extraordinaire Bertrand Russel. There is a “Moloch Machine” in Fritz Lang’s silent masterpiece METROPOLIS. (Honestly if you’ve never seen this movie, or any of the other silent Horror classics like NOSFERATU, THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI, and THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, you are seriously depriving yourself.)
The statue outside the Coliseum is a replica of the Moloch statue from the 1914 silent Italian film CABIRIA directed by Giovanni Pastrone. This film is rightfully regarded as the first “epic” and was a major influence on directors like D.W. Griffith, Cecil B. DeMille, and the aforementioned Lang. The original statue is in the National Museum of Cinema in Turin, where the movie was filmed. In the movie, the statue is hollow and its chest opens to allow for children to be stuffed inside and burned, which is just how it happened in real life. No children were known to be harmed during the filming of CABIRIA.