The Spartacus Rebellion
Spartacus’ rebellion was the last and most important of the slave uprisings in Ancient Rome.
Lasting a total of 3 years, the War that was fought to crush the Spartacus Rebellion would also shape the future of Rome, and pave the way for its transition from a Republic to an Empire.
Spartacus was a Slave in Gladiator Training at the Gladiator School in Capua, and in 73 BC, Seventy of the Gladiators at the school escaped after seizing weapons from the kitchen as well as Gladiatorial weapons and Armour before fighting their way out of the school.
They stationed themselves outside Capua, where they nominated Spartacus as their leader.
They quickly subdued the Romans in the area, taking as much of their weapons and armour as possible as well as looting the countryside, and gathering more former slaves which swelled their ranks to a few thousand.
The initial Roman response was to underestimate the Revolt, and a small Roman Militia was initially dispatched which Spartacus decisively defeated, swelling the ranks of the rebellion even further.
This was followed by a force of more than 80,000 men to handle what the Romans finally realised was a large and organised revolt. After a series of pitched battles, Spartacus defeated this second Roman Roman Consular expedition as well.
After this victory he considered marching on Rome, but decided otherwise after realising that, despite his numbers, his army did not have the engineering skills needed to take a city with such formidable defenses.
Instead, not wishing to be caught in winter in the north of Italy, Spartacus headed south, spending the winter raiding the country, and trading plunder with merchants in exchange for even more weapons and armour.
In the 3rd year of the War, the Romans decided to send the seasoned General Crassus with 8 legions of roughly 70,000 men to quell the rebellion.
Spartacus was reluctant to face Crassus, and he decided to withdraw to Lucania in South Italy where he attempted to negotiate passage with some Pirates to Sicily.
However, despite taking the payment, the Pirates betrayed Spartacus and abandoned him, leaving Spartacus with no other choice except to face Crassus who was now at the head of an Army re-inforced by Legions from two other Roman Generals, Pompey and Lucullus.
The final battle was long and bloody, but Spartacus was eventually isolated in battle and killed.
His death caused his army to panic, and the battlefield turned into a slaughter as the Romans claimed a decisive victory.
In the end, 36,000 Slave Rebels were killed with the Romans pursuing the survivors, and capturing up to 6000 who were all crucified along the Appian Way from Rome to Capua.
Rome would never again see a slave revolt of this scale, and Spartacus would become a symbol for others fighting for their freedom throughout history.
This War was also crucial to the history of the Roman Republic as Pompey and Crassus were appointed Consuls of Rome on account of their victory over Spartacus, and delivering Rome from its gravest threat since Hannibal.
Together with Julius Caesar, Crassus and Pompey would come to dictate Roman Politics. This development eventually contributed to the downfall of the Roman Republic, and steered Rome firmly on the road to becoming an Empire.