Front Matter The First Settlers Escape from the Burning City The Clever Trick The Boards Are Eaten The Wolf and the Twins Romulus Builds Rome The Maidens Carried Off Union of Sabines and Romans Death of Romulus Strange Signs of the Romans The Quarrel with Alba The Horatii and Curiatii Tarquin and the Eagle The Roman Youths The King Outwitted The Murder of Tarquin The Ungrateful Children The Mysterious Books Tarquin's Poppies The Oracle of Delphi The Death of Lucretia The Stern Father A Roman Triumph A Roman Triumph (Cont.) Defense of the Bridge The Burnt Hand The Twin Gods The Wrongs of the Poor Fable of the Stomach The Story of Coriolanus The Farmer Hero The New Laws Death of Virginia Plans of a Traitor A School-Teacher Punished Invasion of the Gauls The Sacred Geese Two Heroes of Rome Disaster at Caudine Forks Pyrrhus and His Elephants The Elephants Routed Ancient Ships Regulus and the Snake Hannibal Crosses the Alps The Romans Defeated The Inventor Archimedes The Roman Conquests Destruction of Carthage Roman Amusements The Jewels of Cornelia Death of Tiberius Gracchus Caius Gracchus Jugurtha, King of Numidia The Barbarians The Social War The Flight of Marius The Proscription Lists Sertorius and His Doe Revolt of the Slaves Pompey's Conquests Conspiracy of Catiline Caesar's Conquests Crossing of the Rubicon Battle of Pharsalia The Death of Caesar The Second Triumvirate The Vision of Brutus Antony and Cleopatra The Poisonous Snake The Augustan Age Death of Augustus Varus Avenged Death of Germanicus Tiberius Smothered The Wild Caligula Wicked Wives of Claudius Nero's First Crimes Christians Persecuted Nero's Cruelty Two Short Reigns The Siege of Jerusalem The Buried Cities The Terrible Banquet The Emperor's Tablets The Good Trajan Trajan's Column The Great Wall Hadrian's Death Antoninus Pius The Model Pagan Another Cruel Emperor An Unnatural Son The Senate of Women The Gigantic Emperor Invasion of the Goths Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra A Prophecy Fulfulled First Christian Emperor Roman Empire Divided An Emperor's Penance Sieges of Rome End of the Western Empire

Story of the Romans - Helene Guerber

The Revolt of the Slaves

Pompey's services were sorely needed at home at this time, and it was fortunate that the war in Spain was near its end. The cause of the trouble in Italy was a general revolt of the slaves.

It seems that at Capua, in southern Italy, there was a famous school of gladiators. Now, as you doubtless remember, the gladiators were prisoners of war whom the Romans trained to fight in the circuses for their amusement.

Spartacus, a Thracian, was the leader of these men; and, when they broke away from their captivity, he led them to Mount Vesuvius, where they were soon joined by many other gladiators and runaway slaves. In this position they could easily defend themselves, and from Mount Vesuvius they made many a raid down into the surrounding country, in search of provisions and spoil.


Roman Gladiators.

Little by little, all the Thracian, Gallic, and Teutonic slaves joined them here, and before long Spartacus found himself at the head of an army of more than a hundred thousand men. Many legions were sent out to conquer them; but the slaves were so eager to keep their liberty that they fought very well, and defeated the Romans again and again.

Spartacus, having tried his men, now prepared to lead them across Italy to the Alps, where he proposed that they should scatter and all rejoin their native tribes. But this plan did not meet with the approval of the slaves; for they were anxious to avenge their injuries, and to secure much booty before they returned home.

So, although Spartacus led them nearly to the foot of the Alps, they induced him to turn southward once more, and said that they were going to besiege Rome. In their fear of the approaching rebels, the Romans bade Crassus, one of Sulla's officers, take a large army, and check the advance of the slaves. At the same time, they sent Pompey an urgent summons to hasten his return from Spain.

The armies of Crassus and Spartacus met face to face, after many of the slaves had deserted their leader. The Thracian must have felt that he would be defeated; for he is said to have killed his war horse just before the battle began. When one of his companions asked him why he did so, he replied:

"If I win the fight, I shall have a great many better horses; if I lose it, I shall need none."

Although wounded in one leg at the beginning of the battle, Spartacus fought bravely on his knees, until he fell lifeless upon the heap of soldiers whom he had slain. Forty thousand of his men perished with him, and the rest fled. Before these could reach a place of safety, they were overtaken by Pompey, who cut them all to pieces.

Pompey had come up just in time to win the last battle, and reap all the honors of the war. He was very proud of this victory, and wrote a boastful letter to the senate, in which he said: "Crassus has overcome the gladiators in a pitched battle, but I have plucked up the war by the roots!"

Then, to make an example which would prevent the slaves from ever rising up against their masters again, the Romans crucified six thousand of the rebels along the road from Capua to Rome.