Background History to Spartacus
- The Servile Wars (Slave Uprisings)
During 135 BC and 104 BC
the First and Second Servile Wars, or slave uprisings,
erupted in Sicily. These wars started with small bands of
rebels but were joined by tens of thousands of slave
followers wishing to escape the oppressive life of a Roman
slave. Much of the Roman economy was based on the slave
History of Spartacus - Why
Did Rome Fear him?
Why Did Rome Fear
Spartacus? It is estimated that the number of slaves in
Roman Italy, at its peak, was about one and a half million
which was about 25% of the total population. However the
Fist and Second Servile Wars did not particularly concern
those living in Rome. Sicily was quite a distance away - too
far to worry the Romans. Third Servile War (Gladiator War or
the War of Spartacus) was different. This slave uprising
threatened the very heart of Rome. In the period that
this famous slave lived it is estimated that about 1 million people
lived in the city of Rome and that of these about 400,000
were slaves - it is therefore no wonder that the name of
Spartacus struck terror into the hearts of Romans.
When was Spartacus Born?
When was Spartacus Born?
Good question - difficult answer! The Romans documented the
slave rebellion led by the Roman slave but
naturally the authors of the day wrote about their own
commanders and their victories, so factual information about
Spartacus is somewhat limited. So back to the question "When
was Spartacus Born?". The most popular date given by
historians for the year he was born is 109BC.
Where was Spartacus Born?
Where was he Born?
According to Plutarch "He was a Thracian from the nomadic
tribes". Thrace was a region of northern Greece and one of
the earliest enemies of Rome.
Did Spartacus have a Wife?
Did he have a wife?
Plutarch refers to a wife of Spartacus as follows, "They say
that when he was first taken to Rome to be sold, a snake was
seen coiled round his head while he was asleep and his wife,
who came from the same tribe and was a prophetess subject to
possession by the frenzy of Dionysus [the god of ecstasy],
declared that this sign meant that he would have a great and
terrible power which would end in misfortune. This woman
shared in his escape and was then living with him."
Did Spartacus have a Son?
Did he have a son?
There are no documented reports confirming that he had a son
but as he had a wife it is possible that she had a child.
How did Spartacus become a
According to historians
he was born a free man in Thrace. It is suggested
that he was an auxiliary in the
Auxiliaries (from Latin: auxilia = "supports") formed the
standing non-citizen corps of the Roman army (30 BC–284 AD),
alongside the Roman citizen legions. Auxiliary recruits were
mostly volunteers, not conscripts, providing specialist
support to the legions. It is possible that he deserted or
committed a crime - the punishment being that he was sold as
Traders worked all of the Roman Republic and newly
acquired 'property' were sold in
to the highest bidders.
originally work in a Salt mine?
It is likely that Spartacus
was purchased at an auction by Lentulus Batiatus the Slave Dealer and Lanista
(Gladiator school owner) who operated in Capua, about 20
miles from Rome. In the movie our hero is depicted working
in a Roman salt mine in the province of Libya. But this is
possible as Roman prisoners were often given the task of
salt mining. (Roman soldiers were paid in salt, which is
where the term "salary" comes from).
When did Spartacus die?
The definite answer to this
question is 71BC when the revolt of Spartacus
was crushed by Pompey and Crassus. This gave
him a lifespan of about 38 years old.
How did Spartacus die?
How Did Spartacus Die?
Again we have conflicting historical information. Unlike the
movie, it is believed that he died in
battle as opposed to being crucified. Spartacus died in Lucania during the battle at the river Silarus which
involved tens of thousands of men. According to Plutarch (46
BC-c.122 BC), "Finally, after his companions had taken to
flight, he stood alone, surrounded by a
multitude of foes, and was still defending himself when he
was cut down". Another document written by Appian of
Alexandria (c.95BC-c.165BC) stated that "The fight was long,
and bitterly contested, since so many tens of thousands of
men had no other hope. Spartacus was wounded in the thigh
with a spear and sank upon his knee, holding his shield in
front of him and contending in this way against his
assailants until he and the great mass of those with him
were surrounded and slain". The body of the slave who
challenged the might and the power of Ancient Rome was never