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Author Topic: Spartacus....what became of him?  (Read 2529 times)

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Spartacus....what became of him?
« on: June 24, 2006, 11:53:04 pm »
I just saw the mini series of "Sparticus" made in 2004. Again for the 4th time.   I like it on a personal level even more than that fantasy piece movie "Gladiator"
My question/opening for discussion is this:
Did Spartacus actually leave his slave army earlier than history reports? Even if the only chroniclers were his enimies the romans, they say he wanted to leave via northerin Italy.  He did have at least one chance.
Later, in southwestern Italy  (toe of the boot) he was apparantly stopped by the treachery of the pirates he trusted to ferry him over to Sicily.
Particularly concerning his failed transport to Sicily, non-attributable reports I've read say innefectual efforts to construct rafts were made and then at least some of the slave army slipped past the barricades of the roman army to continue on in Italy proper.
The behaviour of the slave army at least in southwestern Italy, reeks of a commander who has absented himself.
Also, of course tho lost to history, his apparant trusting of the Cicillian pirates, "Your word is your bond" is not in keeping with the kind of planner and strategic thinker  that history shows Spartacus was.
There is always the chance, of course that rather than the heroic symbol of liberty for slaves that history makes him, Sparticus, in a fit of hubris, decided to keep on plundering the towns and villages of Italy.
Finally, the account of the romans themselves, always exact counters of heads rolled, ears collected, slaves crucified, simply say that Sparticus's body was never found/or not identified.  Quite probable, given the confusion, and mutilation of battle. 
But the romans given their history, would have fabricated a fitting ignoble end to Sparticus, it would seem.
"Here he is, the so-called great Spartacus, crucified, on the Appian way". 
Mass communication and familarity with a person's features was non-existent.  Any captured slave would have done if of the same age, body type, ect.
Simply good propaganda.  But they did not.
Anyway, this:
Did perhaps Sparticus slip away about the same time Crixus left the main group?
It did not make any difference to subsiquent history any more than if groups of blown-off-course roman ships made landfall on the north american coast. 
But it's interesting to think about and given some of the evidence......I wonder. 


  • Guest
Re: Spartacus....what became of him?
« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2006, 11:56:32 pm »
Ok....obviously a boring post.  Hence the lack of responses.  It was of intrest to me however. 
Did I sound wounded enough?

Offline Tiathena

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Re: Spartacus....what became of him?
« Reply #2 on: June 27, 2006, 01:16:53 am »
   Too harsh, Basemetal …
  I don’t think it too boring in the least: quite the opposite in fact.
  I love pondering just these sorts of questions as well – and yours posed here is a good one.
   I can but little more than express that I share it with you, likewise wondering.
  If there is anything I might add at-all, it would be only to say that, perhaps it is true too that Spartacus had nominal command which may not have translated into praxis in the ways in which we conceive, for example, the unambiguous, fixed and disciplined command of the Roman Legions.
  It seems not too much strain to me to imagine that there was perhaps a good deal of tension in the ‘slave army’ with regard to directional Command at-least – operational command? ..who can say?  Was there a general, abiding deference to Spartacus on operational (tactical) Command? (To my thinking, it seems likely there was).
  How many alpha males might we suppose joined his ranks?  How much would a ‘fugitive’ ex-slave, basking in the sudden possibilities opened by ‘freedom’ crave a voice and role in strategic decision-making?
  What you mention in saying – “The behaviour of the slave army at least in southwestern Italy, reeks of a commander who has absented himself” – is, I think, extremely interesting; not-least because I’ve never thought of that possibility before, but, perhaps it may be equally possible it was more of a kind of ‘eclipse’ of his directional, or strategic, command?
   “Also, of course tho lost to history, his apparant trusting of the Cicillian pirates, ‘Your word is your bond’ is not in keeping with the kind of planner and strategic thinker  that history shows Spartacus was.
  Is this a safe inference?
  Might he not have had reason to believe the pirates, likewise being outlaws, might be trustworthy for him predicated on an ideological commonality of cause – a ‘stab at the establishment?’  Naïve maybe, but perhaps also possible?  A naiveté eagerly ‘fed’ to his credulity in a moment in which met all-at-once ambition, daring and desperation – and indeed perhaps, lust for spoils?
  It seems to me equally plausible that he was fully capable of either or both, making mistakes in the manner of strategic miscalculations, and/or engaging in an abiding internal struggle for power (or to say, for Command and Control) – perhaps one even bleeding into the other?
  I of course don’t know and am only proffering thoughts of alternative possibilities on these points.
  One last..?
  “’Here he is, the so-called great Spartacus, crucified, on the Appian way’ … Simply good propaganda.  But they did not.
  Or perhaps it was a deeper & even more effectual propaganda to have him ‘lost’ in obscurity & to eternal oblivion?  It may well have been thought (at the time) that it would be easier to erase his name from history if he were erased existentially?
  We might arch a brow at least thinking what a man with a name on a cross did for a certain Nazarene not so much later ..?
   Best, as ever –
Facilius per partes in cognitionem totius adducimur.  ~ Seneca
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Offline Jochen

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Re: Spartacus....what became of him?
« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2006, 08:05:46 pm »
Perhaps you know the Spartakus-Bund? This was a group of socialist politicians founded by Rosa Luxemburg in 1915 with Clara Zetkin, Karl Liebknecht and others and became the fore-runners of the KPD, the German Communist Party. The name was used since 1918.


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Re: Spartacus....what became of him?
« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2006, 08:44:19 pm »
I never considered that aspect (to take your last point first)! 
Don't make a martyr out of him!   How plausible!
Even in the movie, Crassus  said roughly:
"I will erase your name entirely. No one will ever remember you existed."
Ironic that Sparticus is known even to many historically illiterate people today and
only serious scholars of the period know of Crassus. Others correct me if I'm wrong but I think only one coin is associated with him.
Also, we project our modern mass communication based selves into any historical situation.  Sparticus did not get his issue of USA Today very often in the field.   He had no way of knowing the relationship that the pirates of that day had with the romans in terms of providing them with slaves. 
He had to trust someone to get him across to Sicily. Sometimes you just have to take a chance and sometimes, the person you trust sees the situation as a win/win if they betray you.
Also, I feel as you may, that he wasn't the only person with battlefield experience in the "army".
Crixus is mentioned as having been on Sicily prior.  And among all those thousands, no ex-soldiers?
Perhaps even commanders of forces that opposed the romans?
He could not have done it all himself.  Any army takes an infrastructure. 
Even early on, the weaving of vines to rappel down the sides of Vesuvius albeit on the opposite side of the roman encampment, not directly above as portrayed in the movie, would have required orginization to ensure that a large enough body of slaves reached the ground to overcome even a sleeping garrison, or smallish force sent out.
I am still of the feeling that about the time that the slave army was trapped directly across from Sicily, Spartacus decided that it was time to break through the roman lines to the west and put on those fabled boogie shoes and depart from the main group.  Crixius perhaps as well decided that it's been fun but, now we leave.
The main force of slaves, or those who escaped through the roman lines, possibly commaned by second-stringers,  foolishly stayed together and then decided to attack the forces of Crassus pretty much head on on the romans terms.  After all they'd always won hadn't they?  The Japanese in WWII called it the "victory disease". It puts blinders on those who have won in the past and think that will always be the case.  Crixus simply was unlucky/a poor general on his own and got caught.
Spartacus alone or with a small group might have escaped, not to found a dynasty that eventually conqured rome, but simply traveled in obscurity to wherever they ended up. Be it across to Sicily, or north.  Any fugitive will tell you that having money is essential and Spartacus would have had much of that.
Even the movie has the pirate leader saying after looking at the chest of gold and plunder when asked if if was enought to take "them" to Sicily, said:
"Enough for your selves?"  It clearly intimates that hell yes, more than enough for Spartacus and a small group, and probably would have included a continental breakfast on the short trip.
All speculation. 


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Re: Spartacus....what became of him?
« Reply #5 on: June 27, 2006, 08:49:57 pm »
Also interesting. In real life in "Gladiator"  the actor that protrayed Proximo died of a heart attack during the last stages of filming.  The actor that played Agrippa(?) in "Sparticus"  died shortly after filming was over. 
Both played the "hooker with the heart of gold" role i.e. overcoming their lifelong philosophical prejudices to do good.


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Re: Spartacus....what became of him?
« Reply #6 on: July 24, 2006, 03:33:02 pm »
Basemetal, Spartacus fell fighting and looking directly for Crassus in the battlefield. He was still far from Crassus, and had already killed  2 centurions, when he was overwhelmed by the romans. So... he didn't escape... Just his body was not after the battle.
Probably he felt himself a leader with his own duty: fighting for his ideas, for his freedom... giving the example to his desperate army.
So he never would escape...
What a difference with so many modern infimous leaders... that often talk about freedom... and they're slaves and masters in the same time...


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Re: Spartacus....what became of him?
« Reply #7 on: July 24, 2006, 09:24:19 pm »
Hi and thanks for the reply DVX:

I think that we once again impose our modern sensibilities upon poor old Spartacus.
He could have succumbed  to the lure of plunder and/or hubris.
He did have more than one oppurtunity to escape.  Over the Italian Alps, or possibly could have left with his "entourage" at many points.  I doubt if he would have been killed out of hand by members of his army for that-but who knows?
Even conservative historians note that he was simply fighting at least in announced purposes to escape the Roman Empire and live out his life in freedom-not to make a statement about the philosophical unfairness of slavery. 
He was a very, very good tactician, and a born leader, but that does not mean he was well educated in the worldly sense.
At some point, his vision or his absolutness of command got skewed or undermined by his subordinates.  He could have, once again, simply escaped at several different points in time.
I conjectured that he did based on the dividing up of his army, and the subsiquent "bad choices" someone (yes, possibly Spartacus himself though perhaps second-in commands thrust into new leadership positions) made after the escape from the toe of Italy.
DVX:  The idea that Spartacus fell fighting and "looking for Crassus on the battlefield" is a great storyline, but not supported by facts. He might indeed have died on the battlefield, but I doubt that it was in such close quarters that he was "looking for Crassus".  I could be wrong.  It sounds so "right" given the modern interpertation of how we view him.
In that vein, as with all the emperors, as much as we love their coins and stories, we as moderns must realize that they all would have been extremely violent, oppurtunistic, and without what we consider modern morals. History does record that unlike the movie, in which Spartacus reluctantly allows Crixus to force two roman generals to fight each other, in actual fact he forced over a hundred men to engage each other in life or death duels.  And I somehow doubt the "victors" lived after.
And yes, there are many moderns that would feel quite at home in any of those time periods. 
And though Tia has a very valid point about not making Spartacus a martyr, I still feel that given the roman penchant for dragging and displaying even dead adversaries around with or without body below the neck, the recorded...."Sparticus fell in battle".....and no mention of his body(or someone's) being displayed, especially with the "encouragement"  of torture, or bribery to identify that body-suspect.  I'd be much more comfortable with a codicil of:
 "and the body of Spartacus was displayed before the gates of Rome at the head of the 6,000 crucified rebellious slaves that followed him"
But in the end, Spartacus did this:
He started with a small group of gladiators and kitchen utensils, and ended up besting multiple roman legions, and threw such a scare into the roman empire that even hundreds of years later they were very, very careful about these valiant, violent, canny men and never allowed their politicians to own too many of them, moved them away from population centers in time of strife, and I think and this is subjective, always a bit afraid of them.


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Re: Spartacus....what became of him?
« Reply #8 on: July 25, 2006, 04:35:26 pm »
Hi Basemetal. Perhaps you'll right. We have to trust in ancient historians, but often they don't agree...
You'll right when u say that we looks ancient history by a modern eye... But roman historians made the same writing about the fathers of Rome, like Cincinnatus and Brutus and Collatinus for example...
Today, modern historians and people in general, judge events of 60-70 year ago, with a forma mentis unknown 60 or 70 years ago...
So this is a problem difficoult to solve... However I agree with you... but idealization of the past (in bad or good ways) is inside human thinking...
Sometime we have a political idealization, like the Spartakists of Joken. In this sense, for example, I prefer the Gracchi brothers... and their last follower.... (I can't declarate his name... :angel:)

But you could write a romance story, for a film too, - why not? ;) - based on a surviving Spartacus.


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Re: Spartacus....what became of him?
« Reply #9 on: July 25, 2006, 08:33:15 pm »
I'm afraid if I only changed that parameter, it'd be a somewhat boring story. 
If he did survive he wisely faded into obscurity, the one real winner in that story.
So many possibilities. 
He made it home, then the next month died of appendicitis.
He made it home, had 7 more children, of which 2 survived, and both were girls. They married well, both his sons-in-laws acquired land adjacent to his and he passed away 54 B.C., with the land and gold he acquired passing to his wife (maybe) and his family.  They continued to be quite prosperous and were completely unknown to history.
He almost made it home but was ambushed and killed along with his whole group for the gold he
He made it home, bought land with some of his gold, farmed and raised a family, and then died when he was 49, a ripe old age in those times.
Or......... ;)

Offline *Alex

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Re: Spartacus....what became of him?
« Reply #10 on: July 26, 2006, 03:19:58 pm »
He travelled widely and his family spread all over the empire. Although he died in obscurity his bloodline continues to the present day and his descendants can be found in North Carolina.  ;)

Alex  ;D.


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Re: Spartacus....what became of him?
« Reply #11 on: August 01, 2006, 10:59:14 pm »
And my that heroic line has degenerated! ;)


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