The 2010 TV show Spartacus: Blood and Sand, is only the latest of many works to be inspired by the career of the rebellious slave and gladiator named Spartacus. In fact, not a great deal is known about the career of the real life Spartacus, apart from the part he played in the slave rebellion in southern Italy, against the Roman Republic between 73 and 71 BC. Nonetheless Spartacus' struggle has been an inspiration, both to revolutionaries, and to poets, authors and screen writers, up to the modern day.
Historians agree that Spartacus came from Thrace, a region in the Balkans, and a part of the Roman Empire at that time. He had been made into a slave of the Romans, but as he seemed to possess some military experience, he was sent to gladiator training school, in Capua in Italy, run by Lentulus Batiatus.
In 73BC Spartacus was the leader of a small number of gladiators who were plotting to escape from the school. When their plot was betrayed they fought their way out, using kitchen implements, and seizing several wagon loads of gladiator weapons and armor. After defeating a small pursuing force they were joined by many other escaped slaves, and they retreated to strong positions on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius.
During the next two years Spartacus defeated every attempt by the Roman Republic to crush the slave revolt. Over this time his forces built up to almost 70,000 men.
Finally the Roman Senate chose Marcus Licinius Crassus, the wealthiest man in Rome, to crush the revolt. Crassus was given a force of 40,000 soldiers organized into eight legions. With great brutality Crassus crushed the rebellion. Spartacus probably died in one of the final battles, although his body was never identified. The Romans took 6000 prisoners, all of whom were crucified alongside the road from Capua to Rome.
Spartacus' story has been an inspiration to oppressed peoples and revolutionaries throughout history, and has been the subject of novels, poems, films and television shows.
The most well known film of Spartacus is the 1960 production by Stanley Kubrick. Kirk Douglas took the lead role and the "I am Spartacus" scene has been reprised and/or parodied by many other movies.
More recently the story is being told again in the TV series Spartacus: Blood and Sand, which premiered in January 2010. The part of Spartacus is played by Andy Whitfield. The first series only covered the time up to the escape from the gladiator school, and unfortunately Whitfield has become ill, so the second series has been delayed.
Teenaged boys and young men seem to adore the TV Program Spartacus
with its heroic violence. Parents of younger kids may want to direct their children to another action show that has far less graphic violence, Caprica
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