The Spartacus Slave War, 73–71 b.c.

  • Brent D. Shaw
Part of the The Bedford Series in History and Culture book series (BSHC)


Between 73 and 71 b.c., large areas of the Italian peninsula south of Rome were thrown into a state of upheaval by the sudden outbreak of the third great slave war. This war was sparked by an incident involving the escape of a group of slave gladiators from their training school at Capua, the city that was the de facto capital of the wealthy region of Campania. A gladiator named Spartacus led the rebel slaves. Although their initial forays were limited to the region around Mount Vesuvius and the Bay of Naples, the revolt seems to have rapidly acquired a large number of adherents. The initial Roman response was slow and involved only what were in effect police or national guard units dispatched from Rome or recruited locally in emergency drafts. After the defeat of several of these forces, the Roman Senate and people began to take the rebellion more seriously and to assign high-level military commands to deal with the uprising.


Military Commander Roman History Surprise Attack Battle Line Roman Citizen 
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Copyright information

© Bedford/St. Martin’s 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brent D. Shaw
    • 1
  1. 1.University of PennsylvaniaUSA

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