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Spartacus, historical and modern era

John Bokina


Spartacus (d. 71 bce ) was a Thracian gladiator who commanded the slave forces in the 73–71 bce Servile War against Rome and has since been made a symbol for several progressive political movements. After at least nine victories over ever more formidable Roman armies, he was finally defeated by legions under the command of Marcus Licinius Crassus and died on the battlefield. The Servile War was the third and last slave revolt against Rome. Indeed, it was the last major slave revolt until the late eighteenth century, when Toussaint L'Ouverture , the nouveau Spartacus, led the successful rebellion that freed the slaves of Saint Domingue (Haiti). Spartacus and the Servile War are mentioned by 37 classical writers, dating from the time of the war to the fall of the Roman Empire in the West. The classical accounts are sketchy, fragmented, and invariably Roman in outlook; there is not a word written by a slave or a sympathizer. From the Roman sources we have information about dates, battles, and military commanders. Despite his infamy to the Romans, there are hints of praise for Spartacus' magnanimity, egalitarianism, and military acumen, although the latter instances are often only opportunities to denounce the incompetence or decadence of many late-republic generals. But as a Thracian barbarian who conquered the forces of Roman civilization; as a slave who defeated the citizen ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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