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Slavery is theft — the theft of a life, theft of work, theft of any property or produce, theft even of the children a slave might have borne. – KEVIN BALES.

The history of slavery is extremely tragic and full of cruelty, a topic hard enough to comprehend. The word slavery always tangles up with an image of a person bound in shackles, beaten, starved, and forced to work for hours. When we take a closer look, we may realize that today their more slaves than at any other time in history. A report estimated that 40.3 million people are living under some form of modern slavery. Though today it remains a social issue but back where it was started, slavery was a way of life.

It is believed that slavery among humanity is as old as 11,000 years, but only a chunk of the era is evidently present to us. Slavery or enslavement was a brutal yet thriving business of the bygone era. But history bears witness to those who fought for freedom.

The story of Spartacus is yet another tale of the fight for freedom.

Born free in 111 BC, very little knowledge about the life of Spartacus is known before he was enslaved. According to the sources, Spartacus was taken as a slave at a young age by the legions when Romans conquered their lands. He was brought to Capua by Batiatus and trained as a gladiator in gladiatorial school (Ludus). He went on the become the heavyweight gladiator of the Roman Empire, who would fight other gladiators for audience entertainment.

Life as a gladiator was tough and unforgiving. Their life started at dawn when they were unlocked and provided with a meal. They were not allowed to talk to other gladiators and were bound in shackles. Gladiators were forced to take an oath to ever serve their master’s will, even to death.

Spartacus

Though being a gladiator doesn’t mean that he was bound to only fight, these slaves were also forced to work at mines or till the fields for hours without any break. His life was much similar to thousand of others taken as captive along with him. A nomadic Thracian from today’s Bulgaria, he had served the Roman army as a soldier but was imprisoned for desertification. Sources say that he was captured and sold as a slave.

In 73 BC, Spartacus was among the group of slaves who were plotting to escape. Soon they formed a team of about 70 gladiators, seized kitchen utensils, fought their way through the school, and seized wagons of gladiatorial weapons and armor. These slaves successfully defeated the soldiers sent after them. When the news reached Rome, the kingdom was too busy fighting with the Pontic empire that they barely paid attention to a minor slave revolt.

Thus only a small team of soldiers consisting of some 30,000 soldiers were sent after the runaway slaves. Spartacus along with others found refuge at Mount Vesuvius. They together taught the others the fighting and surviving skills. The soldiers seized the mountain and blocked the only passage to escape. However, years of oppression couldn’t break the spirit of these slaves and they together lowered themselves out using ropes made from vines to sneak out in the night and defeat most of the militia.

The echoes of their victory soon spread throughout Rome inspiring many more slaves to fight for freedom. Spartacus and his men found shelter in small villages specializing in making weapons. At its peak, it is believed that the Spartacus army consisted of about 90,000–120,000 strong soldiers. Through his training, this army was transformed into a Guerilla force. He distributes the spoils in the army equally.

The echoes of their victory soon spread throughout Rome inspiring many more slaves to fight for freedom. Spartacus and his men found shelter in small villages specializing in making weapons. At its peak, it is believed that the Spartacus army consisted of about 90,000–120,000 strong soldiers. Through his training, this army was transformed into a Guerilla force. He distributes the spoils in the army equally.

Third Servile War

Spartacus

With the emerging new victories of the rebels, Rome realized that it is no longer a slave revolt but a rebellion against their rule. In the spring of 72 BC, the Roman senate retaliated with two legions commanded by Lucius Gellius and Gnaeus Cornelius Lentulus Clodianus. They were defeated by the rebel army of Spartacus. But this victory came as a result of several sacrifices. Several rebels lost their lives and Spartacus, to honor them arranged the funeral games. He forced the Roman prisoners to fight each other similar to how they as gladiators would do.

The senate then charged Marcus Licinius Crassus, the wealthiest man in Rome to the position. He together with eight legions went to end the rebellion. In the meantime, Spartacus increased his army by 120,000 rebels. But managing such a big force was hard, and many rebels instead of escaping through the Alps decided to attack the Crassus force. Just like this, the army was divided and Spartacus led the men to the Alp’s borders beyond which they will be free while others left with Mummius to attack the Roman army.

Mummius was defeated and Crassus made sure to seize all the routes for the rebel’s escape. Spartacus made a deal with Cilician pirates to transport him and his men safely to Sicily, however, after the payment the pirates betrayed them and abandoned the rebels. For unknown reasons, the Spartacus army turned south towards Crassus, who had taken control of the rebellion. Crassus with his eight legions successfully trapped the rebels in the toe of Italy. At this time the Roman reinforcement also returned from the Pontic wars and the rebels were broken.

In 71 BC, the rebels made their last stand. The rebel army was destroyed and Spartacus was defeated and killed by Marcus Crassus. The 6000 captives were crucified along the Appian ways. The crucification was done to spread the word throughout Rome that any slave if try to rebel would be killed in a similar way.

Though in the end, Crassus won the war but the story that echoed through the centuries was of Spartacus. The tale of a brave slave who trembled the Roman empire lived. His legacy remained and continues to inspire several others to fight for their freedom. Today his name has become synonymous with freedom itself.


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