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Ancient Rome

Biography of Spartacus

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Early Life

Not a lot is known about Spartacus' early life. He was a Thracian who joined the Roman army as a young man. However, things didn't work out. He tried to leave the army. When he was caught leaving, he was sold into slavery as a gladiator.

Life as a Gladiator

Spartacus lived the life of a gladiator. He was basically a slave who was forced to fight for the entertainment of the Romans. He was sent to a gladiator school where he constantly trained to fight. He was then put into the arena to fight animals or other gladiators. Some of the fights were to the death. He must have been both a good fighter and lucky to survive.

His life as a gladiator was difficult. He became tired of risking his life for the entertainment of others. He wanted to escape and go home.


In 73 BC, seventy gladiators, with Spartacus as their leader, escaped 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 to their small army as they went.

Fighting Rome

Rome sent an army of 3,000 men under the leadership of 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 repel down the side of the mountain and sneak up behind the Roman forces. They killed nearly all 3,000 of the Roman soldiers.

Rome sent another army of around 6,000 soldiers. Spartacus and the slaves again defeated them.

More Slaves Join

As Spartacus continued to have success against the Roman army, more and more slaves began to desert their owners and join up with Spartacus. Soon Spartacus' forces had grown to over 70,000 slaves! The gladiators used their fighting experience to train the slaves how to fight. They also had lots of weapons and armor from defeating the 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 the battles they knew would come.

Final Battle

The Romans became increasingly scared and worried about this large force of slaves and gladiators moving about the country. They gathered a large army of around 50,000 soldiers under the leadership of Crassus. At the same time Pompey the Great was returning from another war. The two generals defeated the slave revolt and killed Spartacus.

Interesting Facts about Spartacus

Biographies >> Ancient Rome

For more about Ancient Rome:

Overview and History
Timeline of Ancient Rome
Early History of Rome
The Roman Republic
Republic to Empire
Wars and Battles
Roman Empire in England
Fall of Rome

Cities and Engineering
The City of Rome
City of Pompeii
The Colosseum
Roman Baths
Housing and Homes
Roman Engineering
Roman Numerals
Daily Life
Daily Life in Ancient Rome
Life in the City
Life in the Country
Food and Cooking
Family Life
Slaves and Peasants
Plebeians and Patricians

Arts and Religion
Ancient Roman Art
Roman Mythology
Romulus and Remus
The Arena and Entertainment
Julius Caesar
Constantine the Great
Gaius Marius
Spartacus the Gladiator
Emperors of the Roman Empire
Women of Rome

Legacy of Rome
The Roman Senate
Roman Law
Roman Army
Glossary and Terms

Works Cited

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