Biography on Spartacus - Early Life
The early life and biography of Spartacus began c109BC when Spartacus was born in Thrace. Thrace was a region of northern Greece and one of the earliest enemies of Rome. Historians suggest that Spartacus was an auxiliary in the Roman Army. Auxiliaries (from Latin: auxilia meaning "supports") formed the standing non-citizen corps of the Roman army. Auxiliary recruits were nearly all volunteers, not conscripts, providing specialist support to the Roman legions. It is possible that Spartacus deserted or committed a crime - the punishment being that he was sold as a slave. Slave Traders worked in all of the provinces of the Roman Republic and their newly acquired 'property' were sold in Slave Auctions to the highest bidders.
Biography of Spartacus - the Gladiator School
Lentulus Batiatus purchased Spartacus who was taken to the gladiator school at Capua. New Gladiators were formed into troupes called 'Familia gladiatorium' which were under the overall control of a manager (lanista) who recruited, arranged for training and made the decisions of where and when the gladiators fought. The gladiator schools also served as barracks, or in some cases prisons, for gladiators between their fights. There was one of these gladiator schools at Capua, which was owned by Lentulus Batiatus. The name of his troupe of gladiators (familia) was named after their owner e.g. Famalia Batiatus.
Biography of Spartacus - the Gladiators Rebel
The regime at the training school was extremely strict and Spartacus together with 70 - 80 other gladiators rebelled and fought their way out of the school. They took knives from the kitchen and killed the guards. The band of gladiators, led by Spartacus, succeeded in obtaining proper arms and weapons, and took refuge in the crater of Vesuvius, at that time an extinct volcano (73BC).
Biography of Spartacus - The beginning of the Slave Army at Vesuvius
The gladiator band take refuge on the side of Mount Vesuvius (near modern Naples) led by Spartacus with his aides who were called Crixus, Castus, Gannicus and Oenomaus. Spartacus and the band of gladiators were soon joined by large numbers of slaves. Spartacus was soon at the head of a formidable army. The desolation of the Social and Civil Wars had depopulated Italy, whilst the employment of slave labor furnished Spartacus with an endless supply of slave soldiers. The runaway slaves included old people, women and children who camped with the gladiators in the crater of Mount Vesuvius. The small group of gladiators plunder and pillage around the area and are quickly joined by large numbers of runaway slaves. Spartacus is soon at the head of a formidable slave army and this triggers the Third Servile War.
Biography of Spartacus - The Battles of Spartacus
For two years Spartacus was master of Italy, which he laid waste from the foot of the Alps to the southernmost corner of the Italian peninsula.
Biography of Spartacus - The Defeat of Glaber
The praetor Clodius Glaber, with 3,000 soldiers, was the first army to be sent by the Senate from Rome to quell the slave revolt. The over confident Glaber and his troops are defeated by the slave army at Mount Vesuvius. Glaber did not fortify his camp properly and his troops were taken by surprise when the gladiator army attacked. The Roman troops suffered a humiliating defeat.
Biography of Spartacus - The Slave army is split
After the victory over Glaber and his Roman troops many more runaway slaves joined Spartacus and his gladiator army increased to 30,000 escaped slaves by 72BC. The slave army then splits, separating into ranks according to their natural languages and electing their own leaders.
Biography of Spartacus - Victory at the Battle at Picenum
Following the humiliating defeat of Glaber the Senate in Rome sends the two consuls (Gellius Publicola and Gnaeus Cornelius Lentulus Clodianus), each with two Roman legions, against the rebel slave army. The armies clash at the Battle at Picenum. Many Gauls and Germans were defeated by Publicola and their leader, Crixus, is killed. Spartacus then confronts the troops of Lentulus and gains a great victory. He then moves on and fights and defeats Publicola and his Roman troops. Spartacus has managed to defeat both of the consuls who were sent against him and the slave army.
Biography of Spartacus - Victory at the Battle at Mutina
Next Spartacus and the slave army fight in the Battle at Mutina. The slave army defeats another legion under the command of Gaius Cassius Longinus, the Governor of Cisalpine Gaul. Spartacus counsels the slave army to escape to freedom via the Alps. Some agree and as many as 5000 slaves escape from Italy. However, the Gauls and Germans refuse to go, wanting to the opportunity to rob and pillage more Romans. Spartacus, demonstrating allegiance to his comrades in arms, remains with the slave army despite his own concerns and wishes.
Biography of Spartacus - Crassus is appointed Supreme head of the Roman Forces
The senate in Rome realises that Spartacus is becoming a real threat. Marcus Licinius Crassus is appointed to the supreme command of the war, who had greatly distinguished himself in the wars of Sulla. Crassus had been rewarded by the Dictator Sulla with donations of confiscated property, and had accumulated an immense fortune. Six legions were now given him in addition to the remains of the Consular armies that were already in the field.
Biography of Spartacus - Defeat for Crassus
Spartacus keeps the slave army together moving to southern Italy where they can hire pirate ships to Sicily (the location of the first two Servile Wars). Once in Sicily Spartacus plans to insight more uprisings against the Romans. During this period the slave army defeats two more Roman legions under Crassus. The Roman troops were disheartened and disorganized by defeat. Crassus is totally enraged by his Roman troops. Crassus decides to inflict the punishment of Decimation on his Roman soldiers for cowardice - this results in the Roman soldiers becoming more afraid of Crassus than of the gladiator army of Spartacus.
Biography of Spartacus - Betrayal by The Pirates
By the end of 72 BC, Spartacus was encamped in Rhegium near the Strait of Messina. Spartacus is then betrayed by the Cilician pirates and his plan to transport a taskforce of the slave army to Sicily falls through. He has no alternative but to keep on fighting.
Biography of Spartacus - Crassus tries to trap Spartacus
In 71 BC Crassus attempts to trap Spartacus and his slave army at Calabria by building a ditch and a wall, nearly sixty kilometers long and five meters wide across the 'toe' of Italy from sea to sea. His plan is to contain the army of slaves and cut off their supplies. But Spartacus manages to break through the lines of defence built by Crassus and the slave army escapes towards Brundisium.
Biography of Spartacus - The Death of Spartacus
The army of Crassus hastened in pursuit of Spartacus and the slave army.. The two sides met in Lucania and a desperate battle ensued known as the Battle at the River Silarus. This is believed to be the final battle and the death of Spartacus. In a document written by Appian of Alexandria (c.95BC-c.165BC) he 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 Spartacus is never found.
Biography of Spartacus - The End of the Third Servile War
The death of Spartacus heralded the end of the slave uprising and the Third Servile War. Crassus wreaked terrible retribution on the slave army ordering that the 6,000 slave captives are crucified along the Appian Way from Brundisium to Rome. Their bodies were left to rot as an example to all slaves and any others who rebel against the authority of Rome. 5,000 of the slave army manage to escape capture and flee north. But they are met by General Pompey as he was returning from Spain, and completely cut to pieces. Crassus had, in reality, brought the War of Spartacus to an end, but Pompey took the credit to himself, and wrote to the Senate, saying, "Crassus, indeed, has defeated the enemy, but I have extirpated them by the roots." Pompey claims credit for ending the slave war and is granted a triumph. Crassus is given just an ovation. The Third Servile War (also referred to as the Gladiator War and The War of Spartacus) is crushed by the might of the Roman army.