People - Ancient Greece: Spartacus
(c. 109–71 BC) Ancient Greek leader of the slaves in
the Third Servile War.
Spartacus in Wikipedia
Spartacus ( Greek: Σπάρτακος; Latin: Spartacus) (c. 109–71 BC) was the most notable leader of the slaves in the Third Servile War, a major slave uprising against the Roman Republic. Little is known about Spartacus beyond the events of the war, and surviving historical accounts are sometimes contradictory and may not always be reliable.
Spartacus' struggle, often seen as oppressed people fighting for their freedom against a slave-owning aristocracy, has found new meaning for modern writers since the 19th century. The rebellion of Spartacus has proven inspirational to many modern literary and political writers, making Spartacus a folk hero among cultures both ancient and modern.
The ancient sources agree that Spartacus was a Thracian. Plutarch describes him as "a Thracian of Nomadic stock". 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". Florus (2.8.8) described him as one "who from Thracian mercenary, had become a Roman soldier, of a soldier a deserter and robber, and afterwards, from consideration of his strength, a gladiator". Some authors refer to the Thracian tribe of the Maedi, which in historic times occupied the area on the southwestern fringes of Thrace (present day south-western Bulgaria). Plutarch also writes that Spartacus's wife, a prophetess of the same tribe, was enslaved with him.
The name Spartacus is otherwise attested in the Black Sea region: kings of the Thracian dynasty of the Cimmerian Bosporus and Pontus are known to have borne it, and a Thracian "Spardacus" or "Sparadokos", father of Seuthes I of the Odrysae, is also known.
Enslavement and escape
According to the differing sources and their interpretation, Spartacus either was an auxiliary from the Roman legions later condemned to slavery, or a captive taken by the legions. Spartacus was trained at the gladiatorial school (ludus) near Capua, belonging to Lentulus Batiatus.
In 73 BC, Spartacus was among a group of gladiators plotting an escape. The plot was betrayed but about 70 men seized kitchen implements, fought their way free from the school, and seized several wagons of gladiatorial weapons and armor. The escaped slaves defeated a small force sent after them, plundered the region surrounding Capua, recruited many other slaves into their ranks, and eventually retired to a more defensible position on Mount Vesuvius.
Once free, the escaped gladiators chose Spartacus and two Gallic slaves — Crixus and Oenomaus — as their leaders. Although Roman authors assumed that the slaves were a homogeneous group with Spartacus as their leader, they may have projected their own hierarchical view of military leadership onto the spontaneous organization of the slaves, reducing other slave leaders to subordinate positions in their accounts. The positions of Crixus and Oenomaus — and later, Castus — cannot be clearly determined from the sources.
Third Servile War
The response of the Roman authorities was hampered by the absence of the Roman legions, which were already engaged in fighting a revolt in Spain and the Third Mithridatic War. Furthermore, the Romans considered the rebellion more a policing matter rather than a war. Rome dispatched militia under the command of praetor Gaius Claudius Glaber, which besieged the slaves on the mountain, hoping that starvation would force the slaves to surrender. They were surprised when Spartacus had ropes made from vines, climbed down the cliff side of the volcano with his men and attacked the unfortified Roman camp in the rear, killing most of them. The slaves also defeated a second expedition, nearly capturing the praetor commander, killing his lieutenants and seizing the military equipment. With these successes, more and more slaves flocked to the Spartacan forces, as did “many of the herdsmen and shepherds of the region”, swelling their ranks to some 70,000.
In these altercations Spartacus proved to be an excellent tactician, suggesting that he may have had previous military experience. Though the slaves lacked military training, they displayed a skillful use of available local materials and unusual tactics when facing the disciplined Roman armies. They spent the winter of 73–72 BC training, arming and equipping their new recruits, and expanding their raiding territory to include the towns of Nola, Nuceria, Thurii and Metapontum. The distance between these locations and the subsequent events indicate that the slaves operated in two groups commanded by the remaining leaders Spartacus and Crixus.
In spring of 72 BC, the slaves left their winter encampments and began to move northwards. At the same time, the Roman Senate, alarmed by the defeat of the praetorian forces, dispatched a pair of consular legions under the command of Lucius Gellius Publicola and Gnaeus Cornelius Lentulus Clodianus. The two legions were initially successful — defeating a group of 30,000 slaves commanded by Crixus near Mount Garganus. — but then were defeated by Spartacus. These defeats are depicted in divergent ways by the two most comprehensive (extant) histories of the war by Appian and Plutarch.
Alarmed by the apparently unstoppable rebellion, the Senate charged Marcus Licinius Crassus, the wealthiest man in Rome and the only volunteer for the position, with ending the rebellion. Crassus was put in charge of eight legions, approximately 40,000–50,000 trained Roman soldiers, which he treated with harsh, even brutal, discipline, reviving the punishment of unit decimation. When Spartacus and his followers, who for unclear reasons had retreated to the south of Italy, moved northwards again in early 71 BC, Crassus deployed six of his legions on the borders of the region and detached his legate Mummius with two legions to maneuver behind Spartacus. Though ordered not to engage the slaves, Mummius attacked at a seemingly opportune moment but was routed. After this, Crassus' legions were victorious in several engagements, forcing Spartacus farther south through Lucania as Crassus gained the upper hand. By the end of 71 BC, Spartacus was encamped in Rhegium (Reggio Calabria), near the Strait of Messina.
According to Plutarch, Spartacus made a bargain with Cilician pirates to transport him and some 2,000 of his men to Sicily, where he intended to incite a slave revolt and gather reinforcements. However, he was betrayed by the pirates, who took payment and then abandoned the rebel slaves. Minor sources mention that there were some attempts at raft and shipbuilding by the rebels as a means to escape, but that Crassus took unspecified measures to ensure the rebels could not cross to Sicily, and their efforts were abandoned. Spartacus' forces then retreated towards Rhegium. Crassus' legions followed and upon arrival built fortifications across the isthmus at Rhegium, despite harassing raids from the rebel slaves. The rebels were under siege and cut off from their supplies.
At this time, the legions of Pompey returned from Spain and were ordered by the Senate to head south to aid Crassus. While Crassus feared that Pompey's arrival would cost him the credit, Spartacus unsuccessfully tried to reach an agreement with Crassus. When Crassus refused, a portion of Spartacus' forces fled toward the mountains west of Petelia (modern Strongoli) in Bruttium, with Crassus' legions in pursuit. When the legions managed to catch a portion of the rebels separated from the main army, discipline among Spartacus's forces broke down as small groups were independently attacking the oncoming legions. Spartacus now turned his forces around and brought his entire strength to bear on the legions in a last stand, in which the slaves were routed completely, with the vast majority of them being killed on the battlefield. The eventual fate of Spartacus himself is unknown, as his body was never found, but he is accounted by historians to have perished in battle along with his men. 6,000 survivors of the revolt captured by the legions of Crassus were crucified, lining the Appian Way from Rome to Capua.
Classical historians were divided as to what the motives of Spartacus were. While Plutarch writes that Spartacus merely wished to escape northwards into Cisalpine Gaul and disperse his men back to their homes, Appian and Florus write that he intended to march on Rome itself. Appian also states that he later abandoned that goal, which might have been no more than a reflection of Roman fears. None of Spartacus' actions suggest that he aimed at reforming Roman society or abolishing slavery, as is sometimes depicted in fictional accounts, such as Stanley Kubrick's 1960 film Spartacus.
Based on the events in late 73 BC and early 72 BC, which suggest independently operating groups of slaves and a statement by Plutarch that some of the escaped slaves preferred to plunder Italy, rather than escape over the Alps, modern authors have deduced a factional split between those under Spartacus, who wished to escape over the Alps to freedom, and those under Crixus, who wished to stay in southern Italy to continue raiding and plundering.
* Toussaint L'Ouverture and his successor Jean-Jacques Dessalines led the slave rebellion of the Haitian Revolution (1791—1804), Toussaint was called the "Black Spartacus" by one of his defeated opponents, the Comte de Lavaux.
* Founder of the Bavarian Illuminati, Adam Weishaupt, often referred to himself as Spartacus within written correspondences.
* Karl Marx listed Spartacus as one of his heroes, and described him as "the most splendid fellow in the whole of ancient history" and "[a] great general ([though] no Garibaldi), noble character, real representative of the ancient proletariat."
* Spartacus has been a great inspiration to revolutionaries in modern times, most notably the German Spartacist League, a forerunner of the Communist Party of Germany, as well as an Austrian anti-fascist organisation in the 1970s.
* European communist regimes in the twentieth century encouraged the image of Spartacus as a fighter against oppression (see "Sports", Spartacus#Sports below).
* Noted Latin American Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara was also a strong admirer of Spartacus.
Film and television
* Stanley Kubrick directed the film Spartacus (1960), based on Howard Fast's novel Spartacus. The phrase "I am Spartacus!" from this film has been referenced in a number of other films, television programs, and commercials.
* An unofficial sequel to Kubrick's film was made in Italy under the title Il Figlio di Spartacus (The Son of Spartacus) in 1963. The titular character, played by Steve Reeves, first appears as a Roman centurion, but eventually learns his true identity and takes revenge on Crassus, his father's murderer.
* The title character of the 1985–1987 cartoon series Spartakus and the Sun Beneath the Sea is loosely based on Spartacus.
* In the 1995 film Clueless, Christian uses Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of the film as part of a subtle campaign to reveal his homosexuality.
* In the 1996 film That Thing You Do, Tom Everett Scott's character Guy 'Shades' Patterson refers to himself as Spartacus.
* In 2004, Fast's novel was adapted as Spartacus, a made-for-TV movie, by the USA Network, with Goran Višnjić in the main role.
* One episode of 2007-2008 BBC's docudrama Heroes and Villains features Spartacus.
* The television series Spartacus: Blood and Sand, produced by Sam Raimi and starring Andy Whitfield in the title role, premičred on the Starz premium cable network in January 2010. 
* Howard Fast wrote the historical novel Spartacus, the basis of Stanley Kubrick's 1960 film starring Kirk Douglas.
* Arthur Koestler wrote a novel about Spartacus called The Gladiators.
* The Scottish writer Lewis Grassic Gibbon wrote a novel Spartacus.
* Spartacus is a prominent character in the novel Fortune's Favorites by Colleen McCullough.
* The Italian writer Rafaello Giovagnoli wrote his historical novel, Spartacus, in 1874. His novel has been subsequently translated and published in many European countries.
* There is also a novel Uczniowie Spartakusa (The Students of Spartacus) by the Polish writer Halina Rudnicka.
* The Reverend Elijah Kellogg's Spartacus to the Gladiators at Capua has been used effectively by schoolboys to practice their oratory skills for ages.
* Spartacus also appears in Conn Iggulden's 'Emperor' series in the book The Death of Kings.
* Spartacus and His Glorious Gladiators, by Toby Brown, is part of the Dead Famous series of children's history books.
* In the Bolo novel Bolo Rising by William H. Keith, the character HCT "Hector" is based on Spartacus.
* In the novel Flip by David Lubar, one of the legends Ryan becomes is Spartacus, specifically when he is challenged to a fight by the school bully.
* Amal Donkol, the Egyptian modern poet wrote his masterpiece "The Last Words of Spartacus".
* Steven Saylor's novel Arms of Nemesis, part of his Roma Sub Rosa series, is set during the Third Servile War.
* Max Gallo wrote the novel "Les Romains.Spartacus.La Revolte des Esclaves", Librairie Artheme Fayard, 2006.
* In 2010 Peter Stothard combined an account of Spartacus' uprising with elements of autobiography, in his memoir On the Spartacus Road.
* Spartacus is a ballet, with a score by composer Aram Khachaturian.
* Australian composer Carl Vine wrote a short piano piece entitled "Spartacus", from Red Blues.
* The German group Triumvirat released the album Spartacus in 1975.
* The UK band The Farm (band) released the album Spartacus (The Farm album) in 1991.
* Jeff Wayne released his musical retelling, Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of Spartacus in 1992.
* Phantom Regiment, a World Class (formerly Division 1) drum corps of Drum Corps International, performed a show entitled Spartacus depicting the show through music and visual movement for their competitive field show in 1981, 1982, and 2008. Their 2008 program won World Championship Finals.
* "Love Theme From Spartacus" Swing of Delight Carlos Santana, Wayne Shorter, 1980
* American hardcore band, The Fall of Troy, wrote a song entitled "Spartacus".
The board game Heroscape features Spartacus as one of the game pieces.
In "The Histories of Pliny the Elder" – a 1957 episode of the British radio comedy The Goon Show parodying epic films – Spartacus is used as a pseudonym for Bloodnok after he has an affair with Caesar's wife and has to escape from Caesar; "You know that saying, 'Caesar's wife is above suspicion'? Well I put an end to all that rubbish!".
* Numerous Bulgarian football clubs bear the name of Spartacus: the most popular are PFC Spartak Varna, FC Spartak Plovdiv and PFC Spartak Pleven.
* One of the oldest and the most popular football teams in Slovakia is Spartak Trnava.
* Russian sports clubs named FC Spartak, of which FC Spartak Moscow is the most well-known, and Spartak sport society are named in honor of Spartacus.
* The Spartakiad was a Soviet bloc version of the Olympic games. This name was also used for the mass gymnastics exhibition held every five years in Czechoslovakia.
* Swiss professional Cyclist Fabian Cancellara has been given the nickname Spartacus.
* Spartacus 7s is the name of an international rugby sevens team created in 2006.
* The Ottawa Senators mascot is a lion named Spartacat, a play on Spartacus since the team logo is a Roman Centurion.
* The University of Tampa Spartan's mascot is named Spartacus.
* The Spanish basketball player Felipe Reyes is nicknamed Espartaco, Spanish for Spartacus.
* The University of Michigan State has a mascot nicknamed "Sparty".
Spartacus Peak on Livingston Island in the South Shetland Islands.
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