Spartacus is a historical figure, a Thracian trained as a Roman soldier and sold in 73 BCE into slavery to the house of Lentulus Batiates to be groomed as a gladiator. Within the year, Spartacus joined with two Gauls also in slavery at the gladiator school to lead a revolt of the 200 slaves there. Nearly 80 escaped, armed with kitchen tools. Soldiers came after the escaped slaves, who had happened upon a cart full of the weapons they had been trained to use. The slaves made short work of the soldiers, took their victims’ weapons, and headed south, collecting more revolting slaves along the way, again defeating a Roman legion sent after them by climbing down vines growing on a mountain to surprise the Romans camped at the bottom of the mountain. By the time Spartacus headed for the Alps, he was accompanied by 70,000 escaped slaves he could no longer control. The Romans came after Spartacus in earnest then, led by Crassus and Pompey, chased them around the Italian countryside, trapped, defeated, and killed most of the slaves, crucifying six thousand of them along the road back to Rome. In an epic twist, Spartacus himself was never found, dead or alive.
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