Friday, May 05, 2006

Spartacus: The Myth and the Man

By M.J. Trow "Today, the Western world's knowledge of the gladiator-slave Spartacus comes from the Kirk Douglas epic released in 1960. But did Spartacus really come close to changing the structure of the Roman world? Why and how did he come to be claimed as a proletariat hero by Marxists? Who was the real Spartacus? This vivid and exciting book traces the story of Spartacus through his slave hood in Rome and training as a gladiator, to the breakout which began when gladiators hacked at their guards with choppers and took to the hills. Initially the affair was regarded as a minor breakout but by the time the Roman praetor found them, Spartacus's rising had grown into an army of 3,000 men. With nothing to lose but their freedom, they slaughtered several of the Roman forces sent to capture them. It was not until the Senate sent Pompey, the 'young butcher' that Spartacus and his army were defeated, the survivors either crucified or returned to slavery. Pompey celebrated with days of festivities in Rome. And Spartacus? He has inspired films and a ballet, has been claimed as a political freedom fighter, and revolutionary hero, and has become a gay icon."
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