The Ancient Library

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In b. c. 72 his ranks contained 70,000 men. The senate, now awakened to its danger, sent two con­sular armies against him, and the praetor Q. Arrius co-operated with a third. Crixus had already se­parated himself from Spartacus, and was routed and slain by Arrius, near Mount Garganus, in Apulia. Oenomaus had fallen previously. Spar­tacus, bent on escape rather than victory, pressed northward through Picermm. One consular army, however, under Cn. Cornelius Lentulus [lentu-lus clodianus, No. 24], awaited him north of the Po ; another, under Gellius Poplicola, pressed upon his rear. He attacked and defeated both separately, and, with a bitter irony, forced his Roman captives to fight as gladiators at the funeral games which he celebrated to the manes of Crixus. He had now 100,000 men in arms, and meditated an attack on Rome itself. The consuls of 72 sustained a second defeat in the territory of Pice-num. But success was in the end fatal to Spar­tacus. His victorious bands refused to evacuate Italy, and forced him to return to the south. His winter-quarters at Thurii exhibited the spectacle of a great fair, whither merchants resorted to buy the plunder of the peninsula. Spartacus, it is said, interdicted gold and silver from his camp, but pur­chased brass and iron, and established armouries on a large scale. At the comitia of b.c. 71, there were at first no candidates for the praetorship. To the praetors was assigned the Servile War, and the name of "Spartacus intimidated all ranks. M. Li-cinius Crassus [No. 17] at length offered himself. He was unanimously elected, and numerous volun­teers enrolled themselves. Eight legions were sent into the field. But for a while victory remained with Spartacus. In the north, whither he seems to have moved early in the spring of 71, he de­feated, near Mutina, the proconsul C. Cassius Lon-ginus [No. 10], and the propraetor Cn. Manlius. In the territory of Picenum he routed Mummius [No. 7], a legatus of Crassus. But this was the term of his unbroken success. The Roman legions had been disheartened and disorganised by defeat. Crassus decimated the soldiers of Mummius, and restored discipline. The slaves again divided themselves, were twice defeated by Crassus, and Spartacus was driven to the extreme point of Bruttium. Crassus drew strong lines of circum-vallation around Rhegium, and by his superior numbers prevented the escape of the slaves. The next design of Spartacus was stamped with his usual genius. Sicily had recently been the theatre of a fierce and desolating Servile War. It was suppressed but not extinguished. Had Spartacus once crossed the straits he would have been wel­comed by thousands of followers and been master of the granary of Rome. The seas were at. that time swept by Cilician pirates, little less formidable than the slaves by land. With them Spartacus negotiated a passage to Sicily, but they impoliticly, as well as treacherously, received their hire and abandoned him. He failed in an attempt to pass over to Sicily on rafts and wicker-boats, and the works of Crassus were daily rendering escape less practicable. To stop the desertion which was be­ginning to thin his ranks, Spartacus crucified a Roman prisoner as a token of the mercy his fol­lowers might expect from the besiegers. In two efforts to force his way out, Spartacus lost 12,000 men ; but he finally succeeded on a tempestuous winter nigbt, in throwing fascines over the Roman


trenches, and getting beyond the lines of Crassus. Rome was once more panic-struck, and even Crassus, although eager to finish the war unaided, sum­moned Cn. Pompey from Spain and L. Licinius Lucullus from Thrace. The jealousy of the slaves themselves terminated the contest. The Gauls se­vered themselves from Spartacus and chose two of their countrymen for leaders, Granicus and Castus. Apart from their great chief they were powerless. Granicus and Castus, with 30,000 of their followers, were slain in the neighbourhood of Croto, and the disgrace of Rome was in part wiped out by the recovery of its eagles and fasces. Crassus now repented of his application to Pompey and Lucullus, and hastened to bring the war to an end. Near Petelia Spartacus was once more victorious, and defeated L. Quintius and Tremellius Scrofa, the quaestor of Crassus. His followers, instead of hastening to the Alps and escaping to Gaul and Thrace, compelled Spartacus to march southward and engage Crassus. Spartacus offered to negotiate. His terms were contemptuously rejected. He then attempted to seize the shipping in the harbour of Brundisium, but Lucullus had just landed there from Epirus. Near the head of the river Silarus Spartacus encountered the Romans for the last time. A skirmisli between the pioneers of Crassus and the slaves, brought on a general engagement. Like Warwick at Barnet, Spartacus slew his war-horse in front of his army, and prepared for death. Long after victory was hopeless he was traced by heaps of slain ; but in the carnage that closed the day, his body was irreparably lost. About 5000 of his men, under one Publipor, made their way into the north of Lucania, where they were met and slain by Cn. Pompey, who boasted that Crassus had routed the slaves, but that he himself had cut up the war by the roots. Six thousand fugitives impaled on each side of the Appian road between Capua and Rome, attested the fears and the cruelty of the conquerors, and contrasted with the humanity of Spartacus, in whose camp at Rhegium were found surviving three thousand Roman prisoners.

The character of Spartacus, like that of Han­nibal, has been maligned by the Roman writers. Cicero compares the vilest of his contemporaries to him : Horace {Carm. iii. 14. 19) speaks of him as a common robber : none recognise his greatness, but the terror of his name survived to a late period of the empire (Sidon. Apollin. Carm. ix. 253 ; Themist. Or. ix.). Accident made Spartacus a shepherd, a freebooter, and a gladiator ; nature formed him a hero. The excesses of his followers he could not always repress, and his efforts to restrain them often cost him his popularity. But he was in himself not less mild and just than he was able and valiant. He preferred his Thracian cottage and freedom to the throne of Italy. Of all contemporary characters the mind dwells with most complacency on those of Sertorius and Spar­tacus. But the one, nobly born and befittingly trained, sullied his name by the murder of the Spanish hostages at Huesca ; the other, a peasant by birth, a slave by compulsion, saved the lives of his captives. The most terrible guerilla chieftain recorded in history was unstained by the vices of his conquerors, and, had circumstances favoured him, would have rivalled the fame of Viriarathus and Wallace. (Plut. Crass. 8—12, Pomp. 21, Cat. Min. 8 ; Liv. Epit, xcv. xcvi. xcvii. ; Veil. ii. 30 ; Flor. iii. 20 ; Eutrop. vi. 7-j Oros. v. 24, 35 ;

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