Spartacus: The Man, the Myth, and the Modern Symbol of Rebellion

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


On April Fool’s Day of 1865, Karl Marx’s elder daughter, Jenny, presented her father with a playful questionnaire. Not unlike the marketing surveys of our own day, it asked questions about his likes and dislikes: the qualities that he most preferred in a person, his favorite food (fish), his favorite color (not surprisingly, red), and various other preferences. The survey also asked about his hero, to which Marx replied, “Spartacus and Kepler.”14 The fact that Marx chose Spartacus suggests how well known the story of a single slave who had led tens of thousands of his fellow slaves in a war against their Roman masters had become by the mid-nineteenth century. It is rather surprising to note, therefore, that only a century earlier Spartacus was all but unknown, even to most well-educated people.


Roman Republic Chattel Slavery Modern Myth Ancient Slave Epic Film 
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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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