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The Real Spartacus ^ | Professor Barbara McManus

Posted on 05/02/2004 10:20:05 AM PDT by Destro

The Real Spartacus

The real Spartacus was a freeborn provincial from Thrace (Greek, but from the hill country and not considered "a real Greek" by the Athenians or the Romans.) He may have served as an auxiliary in the Roman army in Macedonia. He deserted the army, was outlawed, captured and sold into slavery. He was eventually purchased by Lentulus Batiatus and trained at his gladiatorial school in Capua. Spartacus means "from the city of Sparta" in Latin.

73 B.C.: Spartacus escaped with 70-80 gladiators, seizing the knives in the cook's shop and a wagon full of weapons. They camped on Vesuvius and were joined by other rural slaves, overrunning the region with much plunder and pillage, although Spartacus apparently tried to restrain them. His chief aides were gladiators from Gaul, named Crixus and Oenomaus.

The Senate sent a praetor, Claudius Glaber against the rebel slaves with about 3000 raw recruits hastily drafted from the region. The Romans were overconfident in approaching Vesuvius. They thought they had trapped the rebels on the mountain, but Spartacus led his men down the other side using vines, fell on the rear of the Roman soldiers, and routed them.

Spartacus subsequently defeated two forces of legionary cohorts. He wanted to lead his men across the Alps to escape from Italy, but the Gauls and Germans, led by Crixus, wanted to stay and plunder. They separated from Spartacus, who passed the winter near Thurii in southern Italy.

72 B.C.: Spartacus had raised about 70,000 slaves, mostly from rural areas. The Senate, alarmed, finally sent the two consuls (L. Gellius Publicola and Cn. Cornelius Lentulus Clodianus), each with two legions, against the rebels. The Gauls and Germans, separated from Spartacus, were defeated by Publicola, and Crixus was killed. Spartacus defeated Lentulus, and then Publicola. To avenge Crixus, Spartacus had 300 prisoners from these battles fight in pairs to the death.

At Picenum in central Italy Spartacus defeated the consular armies, then pushed north and defeated the proconsul of Cisalpine Gaul at Mutina. The Alps were now open to the rebels, but again the Gauls and Germans refused to go, so Spartacus returned to southern Italy, perhaps intending to take ships to Sicily.

In the autumn, when the revolt was at its height and Spartacus had about 120,000 followers, the Senate voted to pass over the consuls and grant Imperium (Commander-in-Chief of all the armies) to Marcus Licinius Crassus, who had been a praetor in 73 B.C. but currently held no office.

Crassus was given six new legions plus the four consular legions. When one of Crassus' legates attacked Spartacus with two legions, against orders, Spartacus roundly defeated them. Crassus decimated the most cowardly cohort, then used his combined forces to defeat Spartacus, who retreated to Rhegium, in the toe of Italy. Spartacus tried to cross the straits into Sicily, but the Cilician pirates betrayed him.

Meanwhile, the Senate recalled Pompey and his legions from Spain, and they began the journey overland; Marcus Licinius Lucullus landed in Brundisium in the heel of Italy with his legions from Macedonia. When Spartacus finally fought his way out of the toe of Italy, he could not march to Brundisium and take ship to the east because of the presence of Lucullus.

71 B.C.: When Spartacus started north some of the Gauls and Germans separated from him and were nearly defeated by Crassus before Spartacus rescued them. The slaves gained one more minor victory against part of Crassus' forces, but they were finally wiped out by Crassus' legions in a major battle in southern Italy, near the headwaters of the Siler river. It is believed that Spartacus died in this battle; there were so many corpses that his body was never found. The historian Appian reports that 6000 slaves were taken prisoner by Crassus and crucified along the Appian Way from Capua to Rome.

As many as 5000 slaves escaped and fled northward, but they were captured by Pompey's army north of Rome as he was marching down the peninsula enroute from Spain; Pompey subsequently tried to claim the glory of victory from Crassus, although he had not actually participated in any of the battles. The Senate voted Pompey a triumph because of his previous victory in Spain, but they decreed an ovation (a far less splendid and prestigious parade) for Crassus because his victory had been merely over slaves. There were no political purges or proscriptions after the rebellion was crushed.

70 B.C.: Pompey and Crassus were elected consuls, although Pompey was six years too young for the office and had never held any of the lower magistracies. As consuls, they repealed some of the unpopular laws of Sulla and restored the power of the tribunes.

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Extended News; Foreign Affairs
KEYWORDS: ancienthistory; ancienthistoy; godsgravesglyphs; romanempire; spartacus

1 posted on 05/02/2004 10:20:05 AM PDT by Destro
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To: Destro
Spartacus: my all-time favorite movie, even if it diverged a bit from historical accuracy.
2 posted on 05/02/2004 10:31:38 AM PDT by AngrySpud (Behold, I am The Anti-Crust ... Anti-Hillary)
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To: Destro
Thanks for posting that.
3 posted on 05/02/2004 10:33:35 AM PDT by vbmoneyspender
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To: vbmoneyspender
I wish there was a history section on FreeRepublic.
4 posted on 05/02/2004 10:34:57 AM PDT by Destro (Know your enemy! Help fight Islamic terrorism by visiting
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To: AngrySpud
One of my favorites as well. Thanks.
5 posted on 05/02/2004 10:40:53 AM PDT by FreedomCalls (It's the "Statue of Liberty," not the "Statue of Security.")
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To: Destro
Colleen McCullough (whose Roman Republic novels are masterpieces of historical research) claims that the real Spartacus was not "Thracian" but that honorific indicated the type of gladiator he was (or style of fighting -- Thracian gladiators were heavily armored, versus the lighter armed "Gallic" or "Celtic" gladiator.) She further claims that the real Spartacus was a Roman centurion, sold into gladiatorial service after a mutiny, thus explaining his apparent tactical genius against the legions sent against him.
6 posted on 05/02/2004 10:41:02 AM PDT by Cincinatus (Omnia relinquit servare Republicam)
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To: Cincinatus
The name is a giveaway to his origins - Spartacus. This article claims he may have been a Greek auxiliary to the Romans rather than a centurion. I think auxiliary makes more sense. It could have been an inside joke for the Romans too, a "Thracian" fighting as a Thracian. I could imagine the fight bill!

The gladiator games had a religious significance to them. They were a form of human sacrifice (even if no one was killed) and the fighting styles of the gladiators were highly stylized to act out some sort of quasi-religous cosmic play.

7 posted on 05/02/2004 10:50:27 AM PDT by Destro (Know your enemy! Help fight Islamic terrorism by visiting
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To: Destro
If you have an interest in this period of history, please give yourself a treat and pick up the highly readable 'Cicero' about the greatest orator and politician Rome knew, and whose contemporaries were Pompey and Julius Ceasar.

It is a relatively short book, and was a NYT best seller for many months.

8 posted on 05/02/2004 11:36:41 AM PDT by txzman
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To: AngrySpud
Yeah, but wasn't the movie written by one of those commie traitors who refused to identify others commie traitors? He went to Hollywood and despite the effort of brave and loyal Americans, was helped by other cell members. For all we know, he used/uses the revenue from this movie to continue to support the destruction of America. Just as an act of self-discipline and remeberence of enemies still with us, I don't watch this movie.
9 posted on 05/02/2004 1:07:06 PM PDT by Tacis
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To: Tacis
Howard Fast,I believe.
10 posted on 05/02/2004 2:11:09 PM PDT by Riverman94610
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To: Tacis
"I don't watch this movie."

I show Spartacus every year whenever I teach world history. I show this film because there so few content appropriate movies that I can show that are anywhere near the actual history.

But I also show "The Devil's Brigade" with William Holden for WWII and "The Green Berets" with John Wayne for Vietnam. In none of these cases are my liberal fellow teachers very pleased. They don't like Spartacus because it shows slaves rising up with violence against their masters and to them violence under any circumstances is a B-A-D thing. The John Wayne film especially turns their stomachs.

11 posted on 05/02/2004 3:41:45 PM PDT by ExSoldier (When the going gets tough, the tough go cyclic. (R.I.P. harpseal))
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To: Riverman94610; Tacis
The novel was by Howard Fast; the screenplay for the 1960 film, however, was by Dalton Trumbo, of the notorious Hollywood Ten. That is who Tacis was referring to. Trumbo also wrote the screenplay to Lonely are the Brave (1962), one of the most heartbreakingly beautiful westerns, nay movies, ever made. Spartacus and Lonely were both produced by, and starred, Kirk Douglas. Paths of Glory (1957) was also written by Trumbo, and produced by and starred Douglas.

Paths was directed by a young Stanley Kubrick. Spartacus was initially directed by Anthony Mann, but he and Douglas had a falling out, and Douglas replaced him with Kubrick. Kubrick later disowned the film, which his devotees saw as indubitable proof that the movie stunk. However, if you compare the work Kubrick did for Douglas to the work he did as an independent producer-director, you see the Douglas films suffused with a humanity that Kubrick's "classic" independent films were bereft of. It wasn't Kubrick who saved Douglas, but the other way around.

Although I have been an anti-communist since I was a child, and I fully understand the political subtext of Spartacus as an attack on the then recently-deceased Tailgunner Joe, I cannot hate Douglas, or even Trumbo, two men who have brought so much joy and beauty to my life.

12 posted on 05/02/2004 4:45:55 PM PDT by mrustow
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To: ExSoldier
Spartacus is one of my 100 favorite movies. I saw The Devil's Brigade as a kid, and enjoyed it. I was a big Bill Holden fan, and hadn't yet seen The Dirty Dozen, so I didn't know that Brigade was a ripoff of Dozen. (I still recall the scene in which big Claude Akins gets thrown head first into a huge plate of pasta by a bespectacled soldier who, unbeknownst to him, is a martial arts instructor.) But The Green Berets?! I saw it for the first time a few years ago, and it is a stinker! The older I get, the more I admire Wayne as an actor, but late in his life, as his great, longtime directors (most notably John "Papa" Ford) started retiring and/or dying off, he made an awful lot of clunkers.

If I were still teaching, and wanted to show a movie about the war in Vietnam, I don't know what I'd do. I don't think there are any particularly accurate movies about that war. The Deer Hunter is the great masterpiece to come out of that war, and while John Ford would likely have approved of it, had he lived to see it, it is more a work of poetry than history. As for WWII, based on my late uncle, who served in WWII and Korea, and who used to speak of the tedium, I would think that the one movie that best captured what those servicemen who survived the war experienced, would be Mister Roberts.

13 posted on 05/02/2004 5:02:10 PM PDT by mrustow
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To: FreedomCalls; AngrySpud
#12 may be of interest to you.
14 posted on 05/02/2004 5:04:47 PM PDT by mrustow
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To: mrustow
The Green Berets is just about the only "appropriate" movie on Vietnam that I can show and not get into serious trouble for content, meaning that forbidden "R" rating. It's a propaganda piece and just about the only pro-Nam film ever made. But it is fairly realistic as to the role of SF in 'Nam. I guarantee you that every time an SF operator hears the song, it brings tears to their eyes, especially these days. Most of my own buddies in the SF have told me that they got into the outfit because of THAT movie and none other.

The Devil's Brigade might have been made because of The Dirty Dozen but it is pretty historically accurate as well, right down to the final assault on the mountain in Italy. They were made up of misfits from Americans and crack Canadian troops; and yeah there was a lot of Hollywood (like the training and brawling) but a lot was fairly accurate, too. The First Special Service Force never retreated and never lost a battle, but they took heavy casualties and were disbanded before the end of the war due to attrition.

15 posted on 05/02/2004 6:11:15 PM PDT by ExSoldier (When the going gets tough, the tough go cyclic. (R.I.P. harpseal))
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To: Destro
Lentulus Batiatus (Peter Ustinov—won Academy Award for best supporting actor)
16 posted on 05/02/2004 6:15:45 PM PDT by u-89
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To: mrustow
"I would think that the one movie that best captured what those servicemen who survived the war experienced, would be Mister Roberts."

That depends on the service member, I would guess. I never knew that my wife's dad had a DFC and two bronze stars with "V" Device for valor until I literally stumbled across the awards cleaning out his garage. The old guy flew with "Pappy Boyington" and the Black Sheep. Also served in Blackburns Irregulars the sister squadron. His DFC says he attacked forty zero's by himself knocking down eight in the first ten minutes until help arrived. Doesn't sound like a lot of tedium to me. Shot down twice fished out of the drink by a sub both times. He never said a word and refused to discuss them with me until I got him a little tipsy one night. That to me, is the epitome of the word "hero."

17 posted on 05/02/2004 6:21:09 PM PDT by ExSoldier (When the going gets tough, the tough go cyclic. (R.I.P. harpseal))
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To: ExSoldier
I knew a man who was in Darby's Rangers in Sicily and Italy. He was one of the few who escaped the encirclement at Anzio. He was then assigned to the First Special Service Force and from there became part of the 474th. When the war ended they were doing mop up operations in Germany but suddenly sent up to Norway to head off the Russians who were coming in over the top from Finland - it came very close to a real battle.

The man did not like to talk about the war much but I talked to him a little here and there about it for years. He died before I could get him to really open up.

18 posted on 05/02/2004 6:22:42 PM PDT by u-89
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To: ExSoldier
What about the movie "Paths of Glory" for your class? That should start some interesting discussions.
19 posted on 05/02/2004 6:27:13 PM PDT by u-89
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To: u-89
I teach in the inner city. We're about eighty percent Haitian. I'm lucky if I can get them to pay attention to the "B" movies and dang few of them can string together a sentence let alone do some form of cogent analysis.

Thank God the school year is almost over. I've been in those trenches for the last seven years. That's forty thousand miles on my car in travel to work alone. I gotta transfer someplace nearer to my home to keep my zest for teaching. This is the first year I've been there that things have gotten truly dangerous. Three gun incidents this year, one threatening a teacher. Two teachers beaten this year, too. This past week, three kids cut, one requiring over forty stitches. Nobody gives a damn.

A few weeks ago, a friend of one of my students got really brazen and interrupted my class. Real thug, dread locks and gold teeth. Tried to just push inside the room and "take over." I planted myself in his way and he said I ought not to do that cause I might "get hurt." I told him: "You feel froggy? Anytime you want, just JUMP!" we locked eyes and his buddies ran up and dragged him out my room spewing apologies. I was cold as ice on the outside and shaking on the inside. I'm 47 next week, I don't need this. Thanks for letting me vent, lol.

20 posted on 05/02/2004 6:56:57 PM PDT by ExSoldier (When the going gets tough, the tough go cyclic. (R.I.P. harpseal))
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To: ExSoldier
Wow- guy. My Cousin is a teacher in poor rural Vermont and it is not much better there. She burnt out a few years back and had to take a year off. She married the Cop that she conferred with routinely about her students and their crimes or the abuse they were being subjected to at home.
21 posted on 05/02/2004 7:19:07 PM PDT by Burkeman1 ("I said the government can't help you. I didn't say it couldn't hurt you." Chief Wiggam)
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To: Burkeman1
Don't get me wrong, there are some REALLY nice schools in the district where I live! I just have to get out of the combat zone where I've been the last seven years. Some of my friends are so far removed from this sort of thing, they think I'm describing Beirut instead of the county where they live. I've got a good shot this summer at a transfer to such a school. I've got good credentials as a past Teacher of the Year. I'll make it.
22 posted on 05/02/2004 8:35:20 PM PDT by ExSoldier (When the going gets tough, the tough go cyclic. (R.I.P. harpseal))
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To: ExSoldier
My Cousin and Aunt (another public school teacher) are besieged with pro Kerry and Pro Democrat literature and their "unions" basically tell them to vote for Dems.

Is that true in your case?
23 posted on 05/02/2004 8:43:48 PM PDT by Burkeman1 ("I said the government can't help you. I didn't say it couldn't hurt you." Chief Wiggam)
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To: Burkeman1
It's always been true in Miami-dade County, where I am. The RAT union gave over 5 MILLION to Dems that subsequently LOST (Never bet against Jeb!) and then we had a scandal wherein the union boss for the last 30 years embezzled a cool 3 million at least and HE went to prison. So the union lost power, enough that the Republicans in the union (of which I am one) are poised to take over next union election. I'm pretty sure one of my best friends in my school is going to quit teaching and become the number 2 guy in the union. He's retired military and extremely conservative. I'm on the Republican Action Group inside the union. The RATS all hate us but recognize that with the 'Pubbies stranglehold on state politics sure to continue the only way they're gonna get anything is thru US. LOL It's about time. Time will tell.
24 posted on 05/02/2004 9:23:56 PM PDT by ExSoldier (When the going gets tough, the tough go cyclic. (R.I.P. harpseal))
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 GGG managers are SunkenCiv, StayAt HomeMother & Ernest_at_the_Beach

Note: this topic is from deep in the FRchives.

Blast from the Past.

Just adding to the catalog, not sending a general distribution.

To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list.

25 posted on 06/09/2013 6:47:19 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (McCain or Romney would have been worse, if you're a dumb ass.)
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