Spartacus (c. 109 BC-71 BC), according to Roman historians, was a slave who became the leader (or possibly one of several leaders) in the unsuccessful slave uprising against the Roman Republic known as the Third Servile War. Little is known about Spartacus beyond the events of the war, and the surviving historical accounts are inaccurate and often contradictory. Spartacus's struggle, often seen as the fight for an oppressed people fighting for their freedom against a slave-owning aristocracy, has found new meaning for modern writers since the 19th century. The figure of Spartacus, and his rebellion, has become an inspiration to many modern literary and political writers, who have made the character of Spartacus an ancient/modern folk hero.

Ancient depictions of Spartacus

Spartacus's origins

The ancient sources do not agree on Spartacus's origins. Plutarch describes him as "a Greek of nomadic stock", [Plutarch, "Crassus" [*.html#8 8] ] although this reading is disputed: where some editions give "Νομαδικοῦ", others give "Μαιδικοῦ", which Konrad Ziegler argues, refers to the Thracian tribe of the Medi.Fact|date=December 2007 Plutarch also says Spartacus's wife, a prophetess of the same tribe, was enslaved with him. Others suggest his origin as the territory of present Bulgaria. Appian says he was "a Thracian by birth, who had once served as a soldier with the Romans, but had since been a prisoner and sold for a gladiator". [Appian, "Civil Wars" [*.html#116 1.116] ] Florus says he "had become a Roman soldier, of a soldier a deserter and robber, and afterwards, from consideration of his strength, a gladiator". [Florus, "Epitome of Roman History" ] "Thracian" was a style of gladiatorial combat in which the gladiator fought with a round shield and a short sword or dagger, [William Smith, "Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities": [*/Gladiatores.html "Gladiatores"] ] and it has been argued that this may have confused the sources about his geographical origins, although no alternative origin is attested.The name Spartacus is otherwise attested in the Black Sea region: kings of the Thracian dynasty of the Cimmerian Bosporus [Diodorus Siculus, "Historical Library" [,M1 Book 12] ] and Pontus [Diodorus Siculus, "Historical Library" [,M1 Book 16] ] are known to have borne it, and a Thracian "Spardacus" [Theucidides, "History of the Peloponnesian War" ] or "Sparadokos", [ [ Tribes, Dynasts and Kingdoms of Northern Greece: History and Numismatics] ] father of Seuthes I of the Odrysae, is also known.

Third Servile War

Revolt leading to the Third Servile War

Spartacus was trained at the gladiatorial school ("ludus") near Capua, belonging to Lentulus Batiatus. In 73 BC, Spartacus and some seventy [Plutarch, "Crassus", [*.html#8 8:1–2] ; Appian, "Civil Wars", [*.html#116 1:116] ; Livy, "Periochae", [ 95:2] ; Florus, "Epitome of Roman History", ; Plutarch claims 78 escaped, Livy claims 74, Appian "about seventy", and Florus says "thirty or rather more men".] followers escaped from the gladiator school of Lentulus Batiatus. Seizing the knives in the cook's shop and a wagon full of weapons, the slaves fled to the caldera of Mount Vesuvius, near modern day Naples. There they were joined by other rural slaves.

The group overran the region, plundering and pillaging. Spartacus's intention was to leave Italy and return home.Fact|date=July 2007 His chief aides were gladiators from Gaul and Germania, named Crixus, Castus, Gannicus and Oenomaus. Fact|date=July 2007



Classical authors

* Appian. "Civil Wars". Translated by J. Carter. (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1996)
* Florus. "Epitome of Roman History". (London: W. Heinemann, 1947)
* Orosius. "The Seven Books of History Against the Pagans". Translated by Roy J. Deferrari. (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1964).
* Plutarch. "Fall of the Roman Republic". Translated by R. Warner. (London: Penguin Books, 1972), with special emphasis placed on "The Life of Crassus" and "The Life of Pompey".
* Sallust. "Conspiracy of Catiline and the War of Jugurtha". (London: Constable, 1924)

Modern historiography

* Bradley, Keith R. "Slavery and Rebellion in the Roman World, 140 B.C.–70 B.C." Bloomington; Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1989 (hardcover, ISBN 0-253-31259-0); 1998 (paperback, ISBN 0-253-21169-7). [Chapter V] The Slave War of Spartacus, pp. 83–101.
* Rubinsohn, Wolfgang Zeev. "Spartacus' Uprising and Soviet Historical Writing". Oxford: Oxbow Books, 1987 (paperback, ISBN 0-9511243-1-5).
* "Spartacus: Film and History", edited by Martin M. Winkler. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 2007 (hardcover, ISBN 1405131802; paperback, ISBN 1405131810).
* Trow, M.J. "Spartacus: The Myth and the Man". Stroud, United Kingdom: Sutton Publishing, 2006 (hardcover, ISBN 0-7509-3907-9).
* Genner, Michael. "Spartakus. Eine Gegengeschichte des Altertums nach den Legenden der Zigeuner". Two volumes. Paperback. Trikont Verlag, Munchen 1979/1980. Vol 1 ISBN 3-88167-053-X Vol 2 ISBN 3-88167-060-2

External links

* [ Spartacus] Article and full text of the Roman and Greek sources.
* [ "Spartacus"—Movie starring Kirk Douglas and Sir Peter Ustinov]
* [ "Spartacus"—TV-Mini-series starring Goran Višnjić and Alan Bates] l

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