F Heritage History | Story of Rome by Mary Macgregor
Contents 
Front Matter The Lady Roma The She-Wolf The Twin Boys Numitor's Grandson The Sacred Birds The Founding of Rome The Sabine Maidens The Tarpeian Rock The Mysterious Gate The King Disappears The Peace-Loving King Horatius Slays His Sister Pride of Tullus Hostilius King Who Fought and Prayed The Faithless Friend A Slave Becomes a King Cruel Deed of Tullia Fate of the Town of Gabii Books of the Sibyl Industry of Lucretia Death of Lucretia Sons of Brutus Horatius Cocles Mucius Burns Right Hand The Divine Twins The Tribunes Coriolanus and His Mother The Roman Army in a Trap The Hated Decemvirs The Death of Verginia The Friend of the People Camillus Captures Veii The Statue of the Goddess Schoolmaster Traitor Battle of Allia The Sacred Geese The City Is Rebuilt Volscians on Fire Battle on the Anio The Curtian Lake Dream of the Two Consuls The Caudine Forks Caudine Forks Avenged Fabius among the Hills Battle of Sentinum Son of Fabius Loses Battle Pyrrhus King of the Epirots Elephants at Heraclea Pyrrthus and Fabricius Pyrrhus is Defeated Romans Build a Fleet Battle of Ecnomus Roman Legions in Africa Regulus Taken Prisoner Romans Conquer the Gauls The Boy Hannibal Hannibal Invades Italy Hannibal Crosses the Alps Battle of Trebia Battle of Lake Trasimenus Hannibal Outwits Fabius Fabius Wins Two Victories Battle of Cannae Despair of Rome Defeat of Hasdrubal Claudius Enjoy a Triumph Capture of New Carthage Scipio Sails to Africa Romans Set Fire to Camp Hannibal Leaves Italy The Battle of Zama Scipio Receives a Triumph Flamininus in Garlands Death of Hannibal Hatred of Cato for Carthage The Stern Decree Carthaginians Defend City Destruction of Carthage Cornelia, Mother of Gracchi Tiberius and Octavius Death of Tiberius Gracchus Death of Gaius Gracchus The Gold of Jugurtha Marius Wins Notice of Scipio Marius Becomes Commander Capture of Treasure Towns Capture of Jugurtha Jugurtha Brought to Rome Marius Conquers Teutones Marius Mocks the Ambassadors Metellus Driven from Rome Sulla Enters Rome The Flight of Marius Gaul Dares Not Kill Marius Marius Returns to Rome The Orator Aristion Sulla Besieges Athens Sulla Fights the Samnites The Proscriptions of Sulla The Gladiators' Revolt The Pirates Pompey Defeats Mithridates Cicero Discovers Conspiracy Death of the Conspirators Caesar Captured by Pirates Caesar Gives up Triumph Caesar Praises Tenth Legion Caesar Wins a Great Victory Caesar Invades Britain Caesar Crosses Rubicon Caesar and the Pilot The Flight of Pompey Cato Dies Rather than Yieldr Caesar is Loaded with Honours Nobles Plot against Caesar The Assassination of Caesar Brutus Speaks to Citizens Antony Speaks to Citizens The Second Triumvirate Battle of Philippi Death of Brutus Antony and Cleopatra Battle of Actium Antony and Cleopatra Die Emperor Augustus

Story of Rome - Mary Macgregor




The Gladiators' Revolt

Six years after the death of Sulla, while Pompey was in Spain, putting down an insurrection, the gladiators revolted.

The gladiators were first heard of in 264 B.C., when their shows were given only at funerals. Usually they were criminals or prisoners of war, who, in any case, were condemned to death. To give them arms and make them fight until one or other was killed in the arena of some great building, for the amusement of a crowd of spectators, was cruel, but not so cruel as what was done in later years.

For the shows of the gladiators came to please the people so well that they forsook for them theatres and other places of amusement. And then rich citizens who wished to win the favour of the people began to keep bands of gladiators and train them as in a school.

Each citizen who kept one of these schools vied with one another to find the most powerful and muscular barbarians, for the stronger and better trained the gladiator the more exciting and pleasing to the people was the show. So the unfortunate men who were forced now to slaughter one another for the amusement of the people were no longer criminals already condemned to death.

In one of these large schools at Capua there was a great number of Gauls and Thracians. Two hundred of these men resolved to escape, but their plot was discovered, and only about eighty succeeded in getting away. They first rushed into a cookshop and frightened the owner, until he let them take his knives as weapons, so only that they would depart. Then, seizing a wagon-load of arms, they made Spartacus, a Thracian, their leader, and encamped on a spur of Mount Vesuvius.

Other gladiators and slaves soon joined the camp, and Rome, in fear of what these trained barbarians might do, sent out two armies against them.

But Spartacus was a skilful general, and the Romans were defeated, while the army of the gladiators still increased each day.

Again the Romans sent troops against these rebels, and one of their leaders was slain. But Spartacus speedily avenged his comrade's death, defeating the Roman army, and forcing three hundred prisoners to fight as gladiators at the funeral of the barbarian whom they had slain. This is the one cruel deed of which we are told Spartacus was guilty.

After this the rebels moved across Italy unmolested. Spartacus wished to cross the Alps and go back to his native land, but his followers for the most part wished to stay in Italy to fight and plunder.

During the winter of 72 B.C. Spartacus led his troops near to the town of Thurii. Here his followers busied themselves forging weapons for the great adventures they meant to achieve in spring.

But before spring came, Crassus, the richest man in Rome, determined to subdue the rebels. He himself trained and disciplined the soldiers Spartacus had beaten, until they were fit to face the foe.

The rebels were now driven to the Bruttian peninsula, in the extreme south of Italy, and here Spartacus shut himself up with his followers in the town of Rhegium. Yet he managed to send messengers to the pirates, who at that time roamed the seas, and often sailed along the coast of Italy. With heavy bribes he tried to persuade them to take his army in their vessels to Sicily.

The pirates accepted the money, but proved faithless, and sailed away from the coast without taking the gladiators on board.

Crassus thought that Spartacus could not now escape. He dug trenches and built fortifications across the narrow neck of land that shut off the Bruttian peninsula from the rest of Italy. But in spite of all that Crassus could do, the rebel leader, with a third part of his army, succeeded in crossing the trenches and climbing the fortifications, and so escaping from the trap in which the Roman had hoped to capture him.

Then Crassus, finding that his prey had escaped, had a moment of panic, lest the gladiators should march on Rome, and he asked the Senate to recall Pompey from Spain, that he might be ready to help should his fears be realised.

Soon after this, however, Crassus won a great victory over the rebels, killing, it is said, twelve thousand. Out of this great number only two had wounds in their back.

Spartacus was still undaunted. He had withdrawn to the mountains, but dashed down unexpectedly upon the Roman forces, and in his turn defeated them.

His followers were so proud of this victory that they longed to face the foe again, and bade their captain lead them once more to battle.

Spartacus believed it would be wiser to keep to the hills and woods, yet he yielded to the wishes of his followers. But as he advanced towards Crassus at the head of his troops, he found that another army, under Lucullus, had cut him off from the sea.

Victory or death was now before the rebels. Spartacus killed his horse as a sign that he would scorn to fly.

Then, leading a desperate charge, he attempted to cut his way through the Roman soldiers. But his followers proved less brave than was their wont, and deserted him. In this desperate plight he was struck by a javelin.

Even then his courage did not fail. Though the pain of his wound forced him to his knees, he still went on fighting, until at length he fell and was covered by the slain.

Thousands of his followers fled to the mountains. But Pompey, who was on his way home from Spain, followed the fugitives, and killed them in great numbers. He boasted indeed, that although Crassus had beaten the gladiators in battle, it was he who had brought the rebellion to an end.

Six thousand slaves were captured and put to a cruel death, being crucified along the Appian Way.

Spartacus, the barbarian, had been more merciful than the Romans showed themselves to be. For in his camp were thousands of prisoners, none of whom had been unkindly treated.