Where could Spartacus' rebels have fled to?

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
2,830
Sydney
#81
they could have split in various groups and taken their chances to reach safety , many would have died , some could survive
 

betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
5,500
#82
So you guys think going back south in Italy was a better plan? There is no way they could possibly defeat the Romans or achieve peace with the Romans long term.
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
2,830
Sydney
#83
The free companies were mercenaries switching from the very tenuous line between banditry to mercenary , when not in paid employment
north of the alps there was no practice of paying for mercenary , they were the mercenaries ...paid by Rome
 

betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
5,500
#84
If they had gone into the mountains as apparently originally planned, it is very unlikely their would have been absolutely no survivors, as actually occurred.
 
Jun 2014
1,221
VA
#85
The Problem with Spartacus is that the various accounts differ in details. One has Spartacus as leader overall, another as one of three along with Crixus and Oenemaus, both of whom he argued with with and split away from (the other two gauls and their followers all got defeated quickly). As much as I admire Spartacus for his imaginative guerrilla style - despite being a bandit again - his control over his movement was always marginal, and the turn south back into Italy was not necessarily his decision. Worse, he would lose the initiative over two years, barely staying ahead of Roman retribution and indeed when Crassus had him walled up somewhere in the toe of Italy, did he come up with some clever plan? No, he merely threw his followers at the Roman palisade in a desperate attempt to escape. Okay, escape he did, but even if we allow for Roman overstatement in losses he incurred a considerable proportion of his able bodied men in the process for few Roman casualties. As a bandit, he had flair./ As a commander of thousands, he was out of his depth.

It is worth remembering that despite the attractive plot of Kirk Douglas' film, Spartacus was not leading a rebellion against Rome, nor was he fighting for any sort of human rights as left wing politics has proclaimed for more than a century. Slavery was commonplace, a part of ancient life. Spartacus had nothing against slavery other than he didn't want to be a slave nor was he willing to fight as one for Roman entertainment. But when you consider the character of Spartacus, one should notice indications he was not a man who liked taking orders. Rebellious, yes, but not a rebel against Rome. He was after all a bandit leader again once encamped on Vesuvius and his movement was an extension of this role. Bringing down Rome or eradicating slavery was never his agenda.
First sorry it took so long before replying.

I also agree when going over the sources and real Spartacus we do have to work to keep the Kirk Douglas image out of our heads.

However one thing the sources are agreed on is that Spartacus was the one who knew best and when he made major mistakes it was because he was forced to by the people under him.

As a commander of thousands Spartacus determined that Sicily would be undefended and therefore an ideal plan B for himself; and we have a source directly contemporary (Cicero) who backs him up on that.

As far as tactically goes he didn't perform worst than most enemies of Rome.

Tigranocerta wasn't exactly a better experience for Rome's enemies than Spartacus' battle with Crassus.

Having any victories over a Roman Army in this period is an incredible achievement, and having the strategic depth to correctly determine what area would be vulnerable (as confirmed by Cicero) is something that strongly backs ancient authors claiming Spartacus was the one making a difference between a minor nuisance and a large scale rebellion.
 
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caldrail

Ad Honorem
Feb 2012
5,090
#87
However one thing the sources are agreed on is that Spartacus was the one who knew best and when he made major mistakes it was because he was forced to by the people under him.
That's assuming a great deal, because we don't have much in the way of sources relating to his side of the story. Most of his followers were killed off during the two years particularly toward the end and those that survived the final battle, 6,000 of them, were crucified along the Appian Way. Spartacus was never found. Of course there may well have been occaisional waverers and prisoners taken by the Romans but as with all things ancient, the common man (or woman) rarely leaves any account.

Spartacus is given the major part by Roman historians and we have little reason to argue, but the concepts of his generalship are more usually attributed to opinions dating from the last two centuries. Note that these opinions are coloured by the precepts of their time. Mommsen for instance speculates that Spartacus was "a scion of people", because in his day the lower classes could not posibly show such flair and adventurism in his view.

(Incidentially, it's unlikely Mommsen was right. Spartacus joined the auxillaries as a common soldier and desertted to become a bandit and later captured and sold into slavery. Anyone with higher class status, even as barbarians, would be allowed some form of applied status by the Romans accordingly)
 
Likes: MagnusStultus
Jun 2014
1,221
VA
#88
Roman armies lost all the time. Weak victories over weak commanders and small armies aren't indicative of much.
I actually agree the Romans did lose plenty of times but ancient sources tend to explain why. For example they explain the incompetence that led to their defeat at Carrhae (sp). But the explanation generally given (but especially insisted on by Plutarch) for Spartacus' early victories is Spartacus was exceptional.

That's assuming a great deal, because we don't have much in the way of sources relating to his side of the story. Most of his followers were killed off during the two years particularly toward the end and those that survived the final battle, 6,000 of them, were crucified along the Appian Way. Spartacus was never found. Of course there may well have been occaisional waverers and prisoners taken by the Romans but as with all things ancient, the common man (or woman) rarely leaves any account.

Spartacus is given the major part by Roman historians and we have little reason to argue, but the concepts of his generalship are more usually attributed to opinions dating from the last two centuries. Note that these opinions are coloured by the precepts of their time. Mommsen for instance speculates that Spartacus was "a scion of people", because in his day the lower classes could not posibly show such flair and adventurism in his view.

(Incidentially, it's unlikely Mommsen was right. Spartacus joined the auxillaries as a common soldier and desertted to become a bandit and later captured and sold into slavery. Anyone with higher class status, even as barbarians, would be allowed some form of applied status by the Romans accordingly)
That is a good point about the sources themselves, and they do seem to have killed off all of the people on Spartacus' side who could have confirmed how things were done on the rebel side or refuted Roman perceptions of it. However I think the explanation of Spartacus sounds more likely than not. The rebels had no institutions except for whatever Spartacus may or may not have instituted, they had no common bonds to each other being from all sorts of different backgrounds before their enslavement, different cultures, no established chains of command among many other barriers to forming anything coherent together. It takes someone exceptional to convince a slave that staying in an unruly mass like that isn't suicide, so while the ancient sources had to have been using speculation to fill in the blanks for the rebel side they seem to have come up with what I think is the most likely explanation.

I do agree Spartacus wasn't brilliant on the tactical level however.
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
2,830
Sydney
#90
Spartacus people could go nowhere as an unified group , Sicily was the least worst of a bad situation.
I'm sure he was fully aware of this ,the guy was smart and well informed
but the best motivator was ...no other choice
 

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