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sylla

General Spartacus

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I suppose it is true that many deserted Spartacus. But it was only because they argued over what they should do. Spartacus always wanted to go and get through the Alps, while Crixus wanted to stay and fight. So of course those that wanted to stay and fight would die. If they had stayed with Spartacus they might have lived. But I agree then that the army was divided and were not all thinking the same way.
Actually, what the Spartacus' opposition wanted (according to virtually all our sources) was to continue plundering and raiding Italy.

 

The plans of the rebels are not entirely clear; if they were indeed running to their homelands (purportedly Gaul and Thrace), why would they have turned backwards after having utterly defeated the proconsul C. Cassius (of Cisalpine Gaul) and his two Legions (10,000 men) in Mutina? (Late 72 BC).

 

From where I am, I can see two likely non-exclusive explanations:

 

- Cassius' defeat may not have been so definitive as depicted by Plutarch and other sources, and he might have been expecting reinforcements soon (eg, from Fonteius in Transalpine Gaul or Curio in Macedonia).

 

- Most of the rebels might actually have been either slaves from other provinces or peasants from Campania, Lucania and Bruttium; in the last moment, Gaul and Thrace would have simply seemed not friendly enough for them.

I heard that Spartacus's plan was to go through the alps and freedom. But in the end he could not, as his army recruited many Italians whos homes were not in Gaul and Thrace. Therefore they turned back and Spartacus wanted to take care of them, so he went with them.

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I heard that Spartacus's plan was to go through the alps and freedom. But in the end he could not, as his army recruited many Italians whos homes were not in Gaul and Thrace. Therefore they turned back and Spartacus wanted to take care of them, so he went with them.

 

The issue with old Spartacus is that the documented evidence is written by the Romans who were never going to be that nice about him. They couldn't even afford him an "honourable foe" status because he was a slave leading a slave army. Many Romanophiles don't like the fact that he evaded senatorial authority for a while and bested their vaunted military machine for a spell - but clearly he did as the written sources (through gritted teeth) will tell us.

 

Of course, they'll also tell us that the troops he defeated were second rate and the slaves used dirty tricks to win. That's probably true, but then if Queens Park Rangers nick a late (and suspect off-side) winner against Man U in the FA Cup, who cares that it was Man U's second string team and the goal was offside. No one'll remember that, they'll only remember that a crap team beat a great team in the cup. Well, except the Man U fans who'll tell you about every nuance and why it was unfair that QPR won - which is what we get with Spartacus.

 

Of course, there's a lot of myth surrounding the man thanks to Howard Fast's novel and more to Kubrick's movie which portray Spartacus as freedom fighter: I'm not convinced that this is the case. He was probably more of a survivalist with a penchant for rhetoric and guerilla warfare. I suspect when he sat in his tent some nights looking at the tens of thousands that had gravitated around him, he must of thought..."This is all getting a bit out of hand."

 

Pity he never kept a diary!

 

Cheers

 

Russ

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Of course, they'll also tell us that the troops he defeated were second rate and the slaves used dirty tricks to win. That's probably true, but then if Queens Park Rangers nick a late (and suspect off-side) winner against Man U in the FA Cup, who cares that it was Man U's second string team and the goal was offside. No one'll remember that, they'll only remember that a crap team beat a great team in the cup. Well, except the Man U fans who'll tell you about every nuance and why it was unfair that QPR won - which is what we get with Spartacus.

 

I'm not a sports fan, and I generally avoid topics once they hit the Arena... But I just had to say that I enjoyed your analogy, Lanista!

 

-- Nephele

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I savored your sports parable too; regarding rebel slaves, when the mere existence is literally at stake even before the fight begins, no trick could be considered truly dirty.

Interestingly, national traditions about a primordial collective enslavement are not so rare; just check out Exodus.

 

However, regarding the nicety of our sources on Spartacus, you might be surprised for the number of fans that you can actually find; Spartacus was a legend on his own centuries before Fast and Kubrick., a quite honorable foe chanted from his own generation, maybe even from his own lifetime; his main contemporary account was done by Sallust, who explicitly stated that the rebel abuse of the Roman civil population was mostly done against Spartacus

Edited by sylla

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I replied to this and it vanished. I hate it when that happens.

 

The reasons for his epic literary evolution are not entirely clear, but in all likelihood it was a secondary effect of the Roman apologetic narrative, analogous to the case of Hannibal; ie, to satisfactorily explain the utter defeat of the proud Legions by mere subhumans, the depiction of a considerable more than regular human leader was required

 

Yep, I'd have to agree with that take, makes sense to me. It's just a shame that no primary sources from his side survived. There would have been educated greek slaves in the ranks (many a roman employed the hellenes as teachers as we know) and someone must have been writing it all down. Though, given the grisly fate of those who survived the final battle, its likely any such accurate recordings were destoryed.

 

Though - there's a concept for a contemporary novel right there. First-person POV by a greek slave. Michael Curtis Ford, come out of retirement - this one has your name on it!

 

Cheers

 

Russ

Edited by Lanista

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I heard that Spartacus's plan was to go through the alps and freedom. But in the end he could not, as his army recruited many Italians whos homes were not in Gaul and Thrace. Therefore they turned back and Spartacus wanted to take care of them, so he went with them.

 

The issue with old Spartacus is that the documented evidence is written by the Romans who were never going to be that nice about him. They couldn't even afford him an "honourable foe" status because he was a slave leading a slave army. Many Romanophiles don't like the fact that he evaded senatorial authority for a while and bested their vaunted military machine for a spell - but clearly he did as the written sources (through gritted teeth) will tell us.

 

Of course, they'll also tell us that the troops he defeated were second rate and the slaves used dirty tricks to win. That's probably true, but then if Queens Park Rangers nick a late (and suspect off-side) winner against Man U in the FA Cup, who cares that it was Man U's second string team and the goal was offside. No one'll remember that, they'll only remember that a crap team beat a great team in the cup. Well, except the Man U fans who'll tell you about every nuance and why it was unfair that QPR won - which is what we get with Spartacus.

 

Of course, there's a lot of myth surrounding the man thanks to Howard Fast's novel and more to Kubrick's movie which portray Spartacus as freedom fighter: I'm not convinced that this is the case. He was probably more of a survivalist with a penchant for rhetoric and guerilla warfare. I suspect when he sat in his tent some nights looking at the tens of thousands that had gravitated around him, he must of thought..."This is all getting a bit out of hand."

 

Pity he never kept a diary!

 

Cheers

 

Russ

Yeah it would have made things a lot easier if he had kept a diary. If only others (who were not Romans) had wrote about Spartacus, that would make things a lot easier.

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