Rate Spartacus

Rate Spartacus

  • 10 stars

    Votes: 4 13.8%
  • 9 stars

    Votes: 5 17.2%
  • 8 stars

    Votes: 6 20.7%
  • 7 stars

    Votes: 7 24.1%
  • 6 stars

    Votes: 3 10.3%
  • 5 stars

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 4 stars

    Votes: 1 3.4%
  • 3 stars

    Votes: 1 3.4%
  • 2 stars

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 1 star

    Votes: 2 6.9%

  • Total voters
    29
Aug 2014
517
Why do you want to know?
I just finished reading "Spartacus: The Myth and the Man" by M J Trow and I must say that even though the book is not perfect, I've come away from it with a much greater appreciation of the man's generalship. Obviously, any study of Spartacus is problematic given the paucity of sources, but even so I think that a guy who managed to cobble together a bunch of gladiators, bandits and runaway slaves into an effective fighting force and defeat something like six Roman armies must have been pretty special.

So, what's the consensus on Spartacus?
 

zincwarrior

Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
5,713
Texas
A strong leader and commander, able to run roughshod over Rome at near her military and political height.

The other essential question you have to ask yourself, as first asked on SNL is, what if Spartacus had had a Piper Cub? :)
 

Rodger

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
6,171
US
9 stars. He evaded Roman forces, then fought them to victory much longer than anybody would have thought from a "slave army."
 

aggienation

Ad Honorem
Jul 2016
9,813
USA
He beat up on the Romans for years with a slave army, rampaging up and down Italy. I'd rate him pretty high! I can only imagine how effective he'd have been if he'd had a properly disciplined, well equipped, and trained army.
 

Caesarmagnus

Ad Honorem
Jan 2015
3,639
Australia
One of the most overrated figures in the ancient world. He was not a general. He was the leader of a horde (which split up anyway), and whose victories came at the expense of small and inexperienced armies that were poorly led. As soon as the real generals arrived he was doomed. We know almost nothing about him, or his generalship, to make us rate him highly.
 
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aggienation

Ad Honorem
Jul 2016
9,813
USA
This is where I always get confused. Third Servile War occurs 73-71 BC. Previously, a large chunk of the Roman Senate would have served in some capacity in the Social War, the Mithridates War, Sulla's Civil Wars, and Sertorian War, from junior positions, tribunes, quaestors, legates, praetors, consuls, etc. And we're to believe that the only two "real" generals Rome could produce during the 3rd Servile War, while Rome sat in terror, were Crassus and Pompey the Great, one who was busy getting whupped on in Spain by a rogue Roman, the other whose only military brilliance was commanding a wing of someone else's army in battle?
 

Caesarmagnus

Ad Honorem
Jan 2015
3,639
Australia
This is where I always get confused. Third Servile War occurs 73-71 BC. Previously, a large chunk of the Roman Senate would have served in some capacity in the Social War, the Mithridates War, Sulla's Civil Wars, and Sertorian War, from junior positions, tribunes, quaestors, legates, praetors, consuls, etc. And we're to believe that the only two "real" generals Rome could produce during the 3rd Servile War, while Rome sat in terror, were Crassus and Pompey the Great, one who was busy getting whupped on in Spain by a rogue Roman, the other whose only military brilliance was commanding a wing of someone else's army in battle?
There were plenty of good generals. Lucullus for example was around. Rome didn't go with "the best", as often happened it went with other choices. Rome's strength didn't lie in always choosing the best general, it's strength lay in the fact that if bad generals didn't get results then Rome would find good ones who could get results. That's precisely how generals like Marius rose to prominence. In this case there are several reasons; firstly they basically followed ordinary protocol, choosing the high ranking magistrates at the time (who had imperium within Italy, so were technically in charge anyway). Whether these generals had any experience leading armies is another matter (they did not). Let's also remember that nobody took Spartacus seriously to begin with, and this resulted in weak and poorly led and poorly prepared forces being defeated, which in turn allowed Spartacus army to snowball. There weren't many armies on hand in Italy, they were busy fighting overseas, so it's not surprising that this could happen. But slave rebellions, no matter how promising they begin, always end the same way v.s Rome (and, with 1 exception, in all of recorded history).
 

aggienation

Ad Honorem
Jul 2016
9,813
USA
Besides Crassus, Pompey, and Lucullus, who else were "good generals?" Crassus didn't hold any office when he fought Spartacus, he was made pro-consul, and then later consul. He also had never commanded an army on his own. Pompey was in Spain getting beat on by Sertorius. Lucullus was in the East. Are you saying no one at all in the 600 man Senate was capable of successfully campaigning against Spartacus? Or that none of them had the clout enough to gain command of an army?

Spartacus defeated numerous praetorian and consular armies before being beaten by Crassus. They possessed at least as much, if not more, military training and discipline than Spartacus' "mob" yet were defeated numerous times. When one looks at "why" they were defeated it was because Spartacus was a pretty clever general and knew how to use stratagems to win battles.
 

paranoid marvin

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,359
uk
Are we sure there WAS a Spartacus? Or at least a Spartacus who did all the things he is supposed to have done? There's always the possibility that there were a number of slave uprising and that Spartacus was the 'boogey man' blamed on everything that happened. After all, he was never identified as killed.
 
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aggienation

Ad Honorem
Jul 2016
9,813
USA
The Romans sure seemed to believe Spartacus existed. Contemporary writers like Cicero thought so too. There are a ton of reasons why his body was never found after the final battle, he wouldn't be the first general whose remains couldn't be identified after a bloody fight that saw little quarter.