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Spartacus Slave Revolt

Spartacus Slave Revolt

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Historical Overview Section


Spartacus was trained at the gladiatorial school (ludus) near Capua, belonging to Lentulus Batiatus. In 73 BC, Spartacus and some seventy followers escaped from the gladiator school of Lentulus Batiatus. Seizing the knives in the cook's shop and a wagon full of weapons, the slaves fled to the caldera of Mount Vesuvius, near modern day Naples. There they were joined by other rural slaves.

The group overran the region, plundering and pillaging. Spartacus's intention was to leave Italy and return home. His chief aides were gladiators from Gaul and Germania, named Crixus, Castus, Gannicus and Oenomaus. The Senate sent an inexperienced praetor, Claudius Glaber against the rebels, with a militia of about 3,000. They besieged the rebels on Vesuvius blocking their escape, but Spartacus had ropes made from vines and with his men climbed down a cliff on the other side of the volcano, to the rear of the Roman soldiers, and staged a surprise attack. Not expecting trouble from a handful of slaves, the Late Republican Romans had not fortified their camp or posted adequate sentries. As a result, most of the Roman soldiers were still sleeping and killed in this attack, including Claudius Glaber. After this success many runaway slaves joined Spartacus until the group grew into an army of allegedly 140,000 escaped slaves

Apparently, Spartacus had intended to march his army out of Italy and into Gaul (now Belgium, Switzerland and France) or maybe even to Hispania to join the rebellion of Quintus Sertorius. There are theories that some of the non-fighting followers (some 10,000 or so) did, in fact, cross the Alps and return to their homelands

The rest marched back south, and defeated two more legions under Marcus Licinius Crassus, who at that time was the wealthiest man in Rome. At the end of 72 BC, Spartacus was encamped in Rhegium (Reggio Calabria), near the Strait of Messina. Spartacus's deal with Cilician pirates to get them to Sicily fell through. In the beginning of 71 BC, eight legions of Crassus isolated Spartacus's army in Calabria. With the assassination of Quintus Sertorius, the Roman Senate also recalled Pompey from Hispania; and Marcus Terentius Varro Lucullus from Macedonia.

Spartacus managed to break through Crassus's lines and escape towards Brundisium (now Brindisi), but Pompey's forces intercepted them in Lucania, and the slaves were routed in a subsequent battle at the river Silarus, where Spartacus is believed to have fallen. According to Plutarch, "Finally, after his companions had taken to flight, he (Spartacus) stood alone, surrounded by a multitude of foes, and was still defending himself when he was cut down". According to Appian, "Spartacus was wounded in the thigh with a spear and sank upon his knee, holding his shield in front of him and contending in this way against his assailants until he and the great mass of those with him were surrounded and slain"; The body of Spartacus was not found.

After the battle, legionaries found and rescued 3,000 unharmed Roman prisoners in their camp. 6,600 of Spartacus's followers were crucified along the via Appia (or the Appian Way) from Brundisium to Rome. Crassus never gave orders for the bodies to be taken down, thus travelers were forced to see the bodies for years after the final battle. Around 5,000 slaves, however, escaped the capture. They fled north and were later destroyed by Pompey, who was coming back from Roman Iberia. This enabled him also to claim credit for ending this war. Pompey was greeted as a hero in Rome while Crassus received little credit or celebration.


User-contributed links about this army:

Using the army in FoG

  • The biggest challenge is actually collecting and buying all those gladiators!
  • Taking 24 armoured foot plus 8 armoured Gladiators and all the Light Foot is the starting point for this list.
  • Heavy foot grading for the re-equipped slaves gives you more staying power.
  • Large BGs (10 bases) of mob are pretty good at pushing away enemy skirmishers on the flank. Even with no armour and no capabilities 10 bases of average troops are not easy to ignore for skirmishers.
  • The Average mob are unusual and even have light spear as an impact capability so are a lot more than filler
  • Mob are the same in terrain as MF - so use them as RGo troops

Tournament Results

9 / 12 Spartacus Slave Revolt Northern League R2 2008 (open)
1 / 10 Slave Revolt Luncarty Doubles 2008 (RoR)
4 / 16 Slave Revolt Godendag 2008 Doubles (RoR)

15mm Manufacturers supplying figures for this army

This is a full listing of all known 15mm manufacturers with Roman-era ranges, which notes those with gladiators (even though it's unlikley that many of the slaves actually used gladiatorial equipment. A full listing of who supplies what can be found in my 15mm Suppliers directory Please delete this text box after you have selected the right manufacturers
You can see some of the figures in the Ancients Photo Gallery also on this site

Gladiators! Image

Army Lists

Sample army lists for this army
1000 AP army as used to win a doubles competition

  • IC
  • 3 TCs
  • 4 BGs of 8 protected impact foot
  • 4 BGs of 6 armoured impact foot
  • 2 BGs of 4 superior armoured impact foot skilled swordsmen Gladiators
  • 1 BG of 4 protected cavalry
  • 2 BGs of 8 poor light foot javelinemen
  • 1 BG of 8 poor light foot slingers
  • 3 BGs of 10 mob
  • 2 BGs of 8 mob


Remember to leave a line before you copy the above section as a template for your own list

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