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(spär`təkəs), d. 71 B.C., leader in an ancient Italian slave revolt, b. Thrace. He broke out (73 B.C.) of a gladiators' school at Capua and fled to Mt. Vesuvius, where many fugitives joined him. Their army defeated several Roman forces and moved north, devastating S Italy and Campania; Spartacus' aim was a general escape from Italy, but his followers preferred plunder, and in 72 B.C. they were back in S Italy. They took Thurii and got through a cordon which Marcus Licinius Crassus stretched across the "toe" of Italy. Spartacus was killed in a battle with Crassus in Lucania. Pompey, back from Spain, helped annihilate the survivors. Of the captured slaves 6,000 were crucified along the Capua-Rome highway. After the death of Spartacus, 3,000 Roman prisoners were found unharmed in his camp.


(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Spartacus, asteroid 2,579 (the 2,579th asteroid to be discovered, on August 14, 1977), is approximately 8 kilometers in diameter and has an orbital period of 3.3 years. It is named after the leader of a slave revolt in ancient Rome and represents the breaking of bonds and revolt against oppressive authority. The sign and house position of Spartacus in a natal chart indicates how this tendency manifests. If prominent in a chart (e.g., conjunct the Sun or the ascendant), it can show a person for whom this tendency is a major life theme.


Kowal, Charles T. Asteroids: Their Nature and Utilization. Chichester, West Sussex, UK: Ellis Horwood Limited, 1988.
Room, Adrian. Dictionary of Astronomical Names. London: Routledge, 1988.
Schwartz, Jacob. Asteroid Name Encyclopedia. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 1995.



Died 71 B.C. Leader of a slave revolt in ancient Rome that took place from 73 (or 74) to 71 B.C. The Gladiatorial War led by Spartacus was one of the most important uprisings of antiquity.

Ancient writers provide conflicting information on Spartacus’ life. A native of Thrace, Spartacus was sold into slavery and sent to a gladiatorial school in Capua. He fled to Mount Vesuvius with a group of approximately 70 gladiators. This force was joined by other runaway slaves and free tenant farmers and soon grew to 10,000. Spartacus defeated two Roman detachments, consisting of 3,000 and 10,000 men sent against him. The uprising quickly spread from Campania to southern Italy. Spartacus led his army of approximately 70,000 men into Apulia and Lucania.

Spartacus modeled his army after the Roman army. He refused to accept Roman deserters and enforced strict military discipline. Weapons were seized from the Roman forces and were also produced at the insurgents’ camp. All booty was shared equally. In contrast to the leaders of the Servile Wars in Sicily, Spartacus did not proclaim himself sovereign, and all decisions were apparently made by a council of commanders and an assembly of soldiers.

In 72 B.C. the Roman Senate dispatched two armies, commanded by the consuls Cn. Lentulus Clodianus and L. Gellius Poplicola, against Spartacus. One of the armies succeeded in winning a victory at the Mons Garganus in northern Apulia, defeating a 30,000-strong detachment led by Crixus, which had for some reason become separated from Spartacus’ army.

Spartacus took advantage of the disunity of the Roman detachments and defeated them in a number of battles. His army advanced along the Adriatic Sea, covering the entire length of Italy, and defeated the forces of the Roman proconsul Cassius Longi-nus in a battle near Mutina, in Cisalpine Gaul (northern Italy). Spartacus apparently planned to lead the slaves out of Italy. However, after the victory over Cassius, he led his army south.

Six new legions were formed in Rome to suppress the rebellion. Crassus, a prominent state figure, was placed in command of the army. Avoiding a decisive battle, Crassus pursued Spartacus, who had reached an agreement with Cilician pirates for the supply of ships to transport the rebels to Sicily. The pirates, however, betrayed Spartacus. When Spartacus’ army succeeded in reaching the Strait of Messina, it found itself cut off from the rest of Italy by a ditch fortified by a wall; Crassus had ordered the ditch, measuring 55 km in length, 4.5 m in width, and 4.5 m in depth, to be dug from sea to sea. The rebel army broke through the wall, but two-thirds of the army was lost. Spartacus quickly recruited new men and led his army of 70,000 to Brundisium, where he planned to cross the Adriatic to Greece. The Roman Senate dispatched the army of Pompey the Great from Spain and the detachment of Marcus Lucullus from Thrace against Spartacus. Fearing the Roman armies would unite, Spartacus was forced, in the spring of 71 B.C., to engage in battle with Crassus on the border of Apulia and Lucania. His army of approximately 60,000 was defeated; approximately 12,000 insurgents led by Castus and Cannicus had been killed prior to the battle. Spartacus died in battle, and some 6,000 insurgents were crucified by the Romans along the road from Rome to Capua. Several separate detachments of Spartacus’ army continued to fight for a number of years.

The revolt led by Spartacus accelerated the establishment of an imperial form of government in Rome, since the slaveholders understood the necessity of strong state authority to maintain the system of slavery.


Lenin, V. I. Poln. sobr. soch. , 5th ed., vol. 39, pp. 76–77.
Mishulin, A. V. Spartakovskoe vosstanie. Moscow, 1936.
Motus, A. A. “O datirovke nachala vosstaniia Spartaka.” Vestnik drevnei istorii, 1957, no. 3.
Kovalev, S. I. “K voprosu o datirovke nachala vosstaniia Spartaka.” Vestnik drevnei istorii, 1956, no. 2.
Gorskov, V. “Voennoe iskusstvo Spartaka.” Voenno-isloricheskii zhurnal, 1972, no. 8.
Protasova, S. I. “Antichnaia traditisiia o spartakovskom vosstanii.” Uch. zap. MGU, 1950, issue 143.
Brisson, J. P. Spartacus. Paris, 1959.
Tudor, D. Râscoala lui Spartacus. Bucharest, 1963.



died 71 bc, Thracian slave, who led an ultimately unsuccessful revolt of gladiators against Rome (73--71 bc)
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