What finally happened in the Spartacus episodes

Spartacus: The gladiator against Rome

In 73 BC, a captured gladiator dares the monstrous: Spartacus leads Rome's slaves in an uprising against the superpower. But the empire strikes back ...

Spartacus: the gladiator

Spartacus can no longer. The sun is burning, sweat runs down the young man's body in streams, and the blows of his opponent rattle on him endlessly. But even if he almost falls over from exhaustion: He has to keep swinging his sword and ward off the attacks. Because Spartacus is a gladiator - and a slave.

Here in the ludus, the gladiator school, he and the other men are held as prisoners. Every day they have to train with wooden swords in the scorching heat. And soon the next fight in the arena could be on the agenda. With real weapons.

Spartacus probably originally came from Thrace, a region that is now part of Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey. We do not know exactly how he was captured. Did he fight the Romans as a soldier and then was captured, sold as a slave and taken to the gladiator school? At least that's how many prisoners of war end up: as fresh meat for the life and death fighting games that the Romans love so much.

As Spartacus was lying in his barracks that night, he heard the other prisoners whispering excitedly to one another. "Did you notice? One of the newcomers took his own life. He just stuck the stick with the sponge with which we clean ourselves on the latrine in the neck. Terrible! But even this miserable death was good for him rather than the miserable life here! "

Although he is exhausted to the bone: After this story, Spartacus can no longer sleep. He rolls around restlessly. A thought that has often occurred to him does not leave him in peace: Why do the slaves endure their hopeless fate? Why don't they get together to fight for their freedom together?

Revolt of the gladiators

Soon after, a message from Rome's senators startled: In a ludus in Capua in the south of the Italian peninsula dozens of men attacked the guards with skewers and kitchen knives. Unbelievable, more than 70 of them escaped - and now they are also carrying real weapons. Their leader: a certain Spartacus.

The runaway gladiators plunder villages, and more and more slaves from the surrounding area join them. Together they move to Vesuvius. The notorious volcano, which about 150 years later the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum will be buried under ash and lava, is a peaceful, green mountain at this time. Spartacus has his men set up camp in the crater of the sleeping volcano.

A mistake? To restore order, the Roman Senate sends a force of 3,000 men to the south. When they arrive at Vesuvius, the legionaries block the only access to the crater - and wait. Your consideration: sooner or later the runaway slaves will surrender. Eventually they have to run out of food.

But Spartacus is clever: while the soldiers hold out below, the men above tie long rope ladders out of vine branches and let themselves down inconspicuously on an apparently insurmountable rock face. Then they attack the surprised soldiers from behind and drive them to flight.

Spartacus' army grows

What a triumph! The news of the success of the uprising spreads quickly: More and more slaves want to take part. And of them there are innumerable in the Roman Empire! However, your everyday life is very different. It is best for the slaves in the household: They work, for example, as servants, teachers, musicians, doctors or nannies.

They too are at the mercy of their masters' will and whims, but because of their abilities they are considered valuable. Therefore, they are usually treated fairly fairly. And they even have the chance to be released into the wild at some point. The slaves on the farms are different: they often have to toil until they die. These people have nothing to lose - and many of them join Spartacus.

Its army grows to around 70,000 men, who plunder entire cities. In Rome it dawns on the Senate that this uprising is extremely dangerous. That is why the senators are now sending two consuls off with their armies. But Spartacus first sweeps away one army, then the other. There are now 120,000 who follow him. A monstrous force that terrifies the people of the capital!

A bit premature, however, because the slave army never arrives at Rome's walls. Spartacus is losing courage: in the end he doesn't feel strong enough to attack the metropolis.

71 BC Chr .: The decisive battle

Then he lost his luck: under the general Marcus Licinius Crassus, the Romans drove him further and further south. He suffered one defeat after the other. 71 BC The decisive battle ensues: Thousands of insurgents fall. Spartacus is injured in the leg, but he continues to fight on his knees. Persevere, carry on, he has had to learn that long enough from the gladiators.

In the end, however, all bravery is of no use to him: Spartacus is slain. The Romans grab his surviving comrades-in-arms and cruelly execute them. 6000 crosses line the famous Via Appia between Capua and Rome, as a warning to everyone not to mess with state power.

Spartacus, however, goes down in history as the leader of a revolt that held Rome in suspense for almost three years. Some even see him as a champion for the rights of the oppressed. But did he really want to put an end to slavery with his rebellion? Researchers doubt it - but they don't have a satisfactory answer either. What really drove Spartacus? We'll probably never find out. Maybe he just wanted to go home.