Date of birth unkown--born in Thrace.
Spartacus grew up working in the fields of Thrace, but somehow
ended up serving in the Roman Army. He deserted, and upon his
capture was demoted to slavery. He was semt to Capua to endergo
training to become a gladiator. He led an escape of several gladiators
in 73 B.C. and captured Mount Vesuvias. They were joined by a
large group of slaves from nearby regions who were motivated to
fight for their freedom.
led the runaways in the historic insurrection known as the Third
Servile War, or Gladiators' War. His army overtook much of Campania
and Lucania in southern Italy, defeating the minimal resistance
sent by Rome. Despite a growing army of 70,000 followers, Spartacus
knew that his army was no match for the well-equipped Roman army
would easily defeat his group if the Roman Senate ordered. He
suggested moving out of Italia, perhaps to the Alps. The Gauls
and Goths vetoed this suggestion, deciding to stay and plunder
Italian villages for money and goods. Being forced to remain in
Italy, Spartacus headed south to avoid unwanted attention.
a year, the Senate finally decided that Spartacus and his army
were a threat to internal security. Suprisingly, the consular
armies that the senate ordered to crush the rebellion were defeated
three times--both seperated and united. Spartacus pushed north
and defeated the proconsul of Cisalpine Gaul at Mutina. His plan
to escape into Gaul was again, thwarted by his men who refused
leave Italy. With such stubborn troops, Spartacus most likely
decided to head south and escape to Sicily.
with the incompetance of the consuls and proconsul, the Senate
placed Marcus Linius Crassus, the only proven general in Italy
at the time, in command of six legions to stop Spartacus. When
his initial attempt to failed, the senate considered summoning
Pompey the Great, who was returning from Spain. Finally, in 71
B.C., Crassus forced Spartacus and his army into the peninsula
of Rhegium (now known as Reggio di Calabria). They managed to
escape through Roman lines, but Crassus pursued Spartacus to Lucania,
where the rebels were defeated and Spartacus was killed in battle.
His death ended the insurrection, and 6000 captured rebels were
crucified along the Appian Way (the main road out of Rome). The
few who escaped to the north were killed by Pompey's army, most
likely due to chance more than any planning by Pompey.
Gladiators' War sent a message to the Roman people. There was
unrest and dissent among the slaves, and that was an ever present
threat to the empire's internal security. Although the use of
slaves continued long after the fall of Spartacus, it decreased
gradually and social attitudes changed after the war, with some
patricians becoming opposed to the usage of slaves.
In 1960, Kirk Douglas (Spartacus), Laurence Olivier (Crassus)
and Jean Simmons starred in what was at the time an epic movie
based on the life of Spartacus. The movie, directed by Stanley
Kubrick, was shot over 167 days, employing more than 10,000 people,
and costing over $12 million to make, at the time one of the most
expensive movies ever. However, the film was a great success,
winning 4 Acadamy Awards and the Golden Globe Award for Best Picture
and grossing over $13 million within the year.
2004, Spartacus was re-made into a TV Mini-series.