Ancient Rome Biography of Spartacus

Not a lot is known about Spartacus' early life. He was a Thracian who joined the Roman army as a young man. Unhappy, he tried to leave the army. He was caught and sold into slavery.

Spartacus was a slave who was forced to fight for the entertainment of the Romans. He was sent to a gladiator school where he was trained to fight. He was ordered into the arena to fight animals or other gladiators. Some of the fights were to the death. He must have had both fighting skills and luck to survive. He became tired of risking his life for the entertainment of others. He wanted to escape and go home.

In 73 BC, Spartacus led seventy gladiators in an escape from the gladiator school. They were able to steal their weapons and armor and fight their way free. They fled to Mount Vesuvius near the city of Pompeii, gathering more slaves as they went.

Rome sent an army of 3,000 men led by Claudius Glaber. Glaber surrounded the slaves at Mount Vesuvius and decided to wait them out. He figured they would eventually starve. Spartacus, however, had a different idea. He and the gladiators used the vines from local trees to rappel down the side of the mountain and sneak up behind the Roman forces. They killed nearly all 3,000 of the soldiers. Rome sent another army of 6,000 soldiers. Spartacus and the slaves again defeated them.

As Spartacus continued to succeed against the Roman army, more and more slaves deserted their owners and joined up, soon numbering over 70,000 slaves. The gladiators used their fighting experience to train the other slaves how to fight. They gathered weapons and armor from the defeated Roman troops. Over the winter of that year, Spartacus and his 70,000 slaves camped in northern Italy. They raided Roman towns for food and supplies and trained for future battles.

The Romans became increasingly worried about this large force of slaves. They gathered an army of around 50,000 soldiers under the leadership of Crassus, who finally defeated the slave revolt and killed Spartacus. His body was never found; however, most historians agree that he was killed on the battlefield. The Romans captured 6,000 slaves in the final battle and crucified them. The Roman generals were rewarded for putting down the revolt by being elected as consuls.

This slave uprising is called the Third Servile War.

Source: Ancient Rome Biography of Spartacus
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