Statue of Spartacus at the Louvre
Photo by: Denis Foyatier, Creative Commons

Spartacus was a leader of oppressed people under the old Roman Republic. He is known for starting a rebellion against the Roman Empire in the Third Servile War. There are a lot many things to learn about this known leader. There are some assumptions that have not been confirmed to this very day but one thing is for sure, Spartacus was able to share a vision with the slaves during the ancient times and he led the way to bring back this knowledge to everyone. Here are some facts about this brave leader.

His Origins

There are arguments when it comes to the origins of this man. Ancient historians believed that he was Thracian. Others thought of him as a Thracian by birth but was trained as a Roman soldier. A lot of authors have encased this man in countless origins that it became hard to keep track of them. Although, he is known to the world as a Thracian who later received training from the Roman army and was then sold to slavery.

Role In The Slave’s Revolt

After he received training from the Roman army, historians say that Spartacus was sold to a “ludus” or a training ground for gladiators. A ludus is a Latin word that meant school or game. In Roman times, there were a few schools that trained gladiators so that they could take part in the games at the Colosseum; these games took the lives of gladiators and slaves.

Spartacus was sold to the ludus of Lentulus Batiatus in 73 B.C. The school or ludus was located in Capua just 20 miles away from Mt. Vesuvius. During the same year, Spartacus planned a revolt against the school. He started planning the escape from the ludus with the help of other gladiators who wanted to earn their freedom. The plot was betrayed by other gladiators but they still pushed through. Using kitchen tools as an alternative to their usual weapons, the men fought their way out of the school and into the streets of Capua. As soon as they were able to gain access to the streets, they seized wagons that contained gladiator armors and weapons. The escaped gladiators were freed from the school but they encountered much more in the streets of Rome.

The Army

During their escape, they encountered a small army but they were able to defend themselves and survive. Along the way, they started recruiting slaves to be part of their own army. After they recruited enough men, they decided to build camp near Mt. Vesuvius. Spartacus, Crixus and Oenomaus were chosen by the slaves and gladiators to lead them. During this time, the Roman Army was busy due to the war being fought in Spain.

It seemed that the Romans did not really look into this rebellion as a cause of war. Gaius Claudius Glaber, the leader of the army dispatched to seize the slaves was surprised at the tactics of Spartacus and his army. It was told that Spartacus and his men used vines as ropes to lie waste the unfortified camp at the bottom of the volcano. This success brought more people in Spartacus’ army and at the end the army was up to 70,000.

Rome Threatened

The growing number of Spartacus’ army alarmed the Senate. It was during this time that they tasked two consular legions to stop this rebellion. Led by Gnaeus Cornelius Lentulus Clodianus and Lucius Gellius Publicola, they defeated the army of Crixus in Mount Garganus. Although, the victory was short lived because they were defeated by Spartacus’ army.

This defeat led the Roman Senate to task Marcus Licinius Crassus to end the rebellion. Crassus was the wealthiest man in Rome and he had been given eight legions to command. It was under Crassus that the Roman Empire started gaining victories against the army of slaves. Spartacus was then forced to camp near the Strait of Messina in Rhegium. It was also during this time that Crassus tasked his army to start a camp in the same area and attack the rebels and cut off their supplies.

The Fall

The army who fought in Spain was then tasked to aid Crassus in his pursuit to end the rebellion. It was said that Spartacus tried to bargain with Crassus and was unsuccessful. It was this moment that some of Spartacus’ army fled to the mountains in Petelia. The Roman army was able to catch a few rebels who were separated from the group during their escape and other slaves started forming independent groups to fight off the legion that came. Spartacus brought his full force to make a last stand against the oncoming legions. He used the strength of his full army to bring the battle to an end. It was this time that a majority of slaves were killed.

It was in 71 BCE that the final battle commenced. It was also the year that the slaves’ rebellion was brought down and the death of Spartacus. It was on the River Sele that this defeat took place. There have been accounts of armors and swords found in this battlefield after a few centuries. It was the end of the rebellion against the Roman Empire. Although, there are still questions about the fate of the leader of the slaves, Spartacus. During the fall of the rebellion, his body was not found but some historians believe that he died in the final stand with his men. The survivors of the war were then captured and crucified.

The story of Spartacus has brought a rich history of the ancient era to our very existence. There are a lot of adaptations when it comes to his story of bravery and leadership. There may be a lot of things that are yet to be discovered but his actions will always be remembered for years to come. Spartacus became the key to opening the eyes of slaves all over Rome and to the world. It was his quest for freedom that inspired modern writers when it comes to the meaning of oppression. It was his rebellion that brought truth to many political and literary writers all over the world.

3 responses to “Spartacus”

  1. Leoramson says:

    When I finished the reading of spartacus history I felt so sad and in sorow, why becauise of his death. Bt one thing I have to ask is did the game and slave tradding continues after the death of spartacus?

  2. Tatiana says:

    What are four traits that describe him?

  3. Jeff Long says:

    I was so taken with the story of Spartacus. My daughter moved to Italy and gave birth to my first grandchild which I ask her to name Spartacus which she didn’t. However, we do call him Baby Spartacus as a nickname. My daughter lives outside of Naples which isn’t far from Capua. When I went to visit her I insisted that we visit the amphitheater in Capua where Spartacus fought for his life. I was able to go under the arena floor where men were staged before entering the amphitheater to fight to the death for the entertainment of other so called humans. The feeling is hard to describe standing on the same ground where men were forced to fight to the death by their slave masters. Our lives in current history is so easy compared to those who experienced slavery and specially the lives of Spartacus and gladiators who didn’t work the mud pits in Egypt or work the fields in the south but were forced to fight to the death. We should never forget world history and what it took to arrive in this point in time. We also should not forget our most recent history, Hitler and other dictators who had men, women and children murdered. And now there are terrorist in the Mid East beheading and burning helpless people. . All of us who live in the USA should thank God every day for our good fortune.

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