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History of Spartacus

He became famous for leading a major slave uprising against the Roman Republic, Spartacus is well known character referenced in history books, stories and films from around the world.

The story of Spartacus comes from the Roman Republic, in particular the period after the Punic Wars, when Romans built their armies by recruiting prisoners of war and/or reducing them to slaves. Spartacus was not from Rome, in fact he was from Thrace, an ancient region that lies between the Black Sea and the Aegean Sea.


It is said that Spartacus was a poor shepherd and decided to enlist as an auxiliary in the Roman militia to improve his position. He served in the Roman army for several years, even though he was taunted with continuous insults and racist comments that was typical treatment of non-Romans. Eventually, he was declared a deserter from the army, was captured and forced into slavery. Because of his muscular build, Spartacus was noticed by Lentulus Batiatus who was a well-known organizer of combat shows.  Batiatus bought Spartacus to be trained as a roman gladiator in his lutus, a gladiatorial school, near Capua. Spartacus became a gladiator and was forced to fight other gladiators but also wild animals, just to entertain the Roman aristocracy.


Eventually, having borne the degradation and exploitation of life as a gladiator, Spartacus decided to run away from the Amphitheater. In 73 BC, after having convinced nearly 200 gladiators, Spartacus and his crew escaped from the lutus, overpowering the local guards and took refuge in the vicinity of Mount Vesuvius. It was at the foot of the volcano that Spartacus won his first battle against the Roman army led by Gaius Clodius and Vatinius. After this victory, Spartacus became chief of the rebels along with two Gaul gladiators Oenomaus and Crixus (also called Crisso or Crixia) who began to prepare for the next attacks.


The Roman Senate was becoming more concerned with the revolt and decided to senda Glaber Gaius Claudius and Publius Varini to disband the slave army led by Spartacus. Unfortunately for the Romans, Spartacus first defeated one magistrate and then the other. Spartacus and his army even seized the horses and arms of the Roman legions. This was a very important victory for the gladiator army because it convinced large numbers of slaves, laborers, farmers and shepherds from the surrounding areas to join the revolt. In 72,  the Senate again dispatched Gnaeus Cornelius Lentulus and Lucius Gellius to command two consular legion.  A group of 30,000 slaves led by Crixus was initially defeated near Gargano however in the end, Spartacus defeated the large Roman army and moved south.


Now the Senate was very worried and at the end of the 72 was insistent on ending Spartacus’ campaign.  They placed Marcus Licinius Crassus in command who at that time was the best military strategist of the capital. Crassus moved against Spartacus’ slave army with six legions plus the four consular legions. By the winter of 72-71 BC, Spartacus had arrived in southern Italy having defeated two of Crassus’ legions who had attacked against orders.  The Senate in the meantime had recalled Pompey and his legions from Spain who were making their way on land and Marcus Licinius Lucullus  from Macedonia, who would land in Brindisi, Apuglia. Near the river Sele, in Lucania, the final battle took place: 60,000 slaves including Spartacus, died (whose body was never found). The Romans lost only 1,000 men and 6,000 slaves were taken prisoner and crucified barefoot by Crassus along the Appian Way, which leads from Capua to Rome. 


Spartacus will be remembered not only as a slave and gladiator, but as a hero of the oppressed in Rome and a valiant fighter capable of defending their freedom against the Roman aristocracy. The story of Spartacus lives on legends and folklore and have made him the most famous Roman slave. He has been the inspiration for many film, poems and literature around at the world.


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Inserted by fish3one

4/8/2011 19:43
Spartacus in Rome is remembered only as a slave and a traitor...

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