Wednesday, April 15, 2009

What's in the name?

Why Spartacus wore a skirt? 
I know, odd, right?  I have heard everything imaginable regarding my choice for this name, but I still think it is perfectly fitting.  Let me explain.
Spartacus (c. 109 BC-71 BC), according to Roman Historians, was a salve and gladiator who became the leader in the somewhat successful slave uprising against the Roman Republic known as the Third Servile War.
The ancient sources agree on Spartacus's origins. Plutarch describes him as "a Thracian of Nomadic stock".  Appian says he was "a Thracian by birth, who had once served as a soldier with the Romans, but had since been a prisoner and sold for a gladiator". Florus described him as one "who from Thracian mercenary, had become a Roman soldier, of a soldier a deserter and robber, and afterwards, from consideration of his strength, a gladiator". 
Spartacus was trained at the gladiatorial school (ludus) near Capua, belonging to Lentulus Batiatus. Finally in 73 BC, Spartacus and some seventy followers escaped from the gladiator school of Lentulus Batiatus. Seizing the knives in the cook's shop and a wagon full of weapons, the slaves fled to the caldera of Mount Vesuvius, near modern day Naples. There they were joined by other rural slaves.
The group overran the region, plundering and pillaging. Spartacus's intention was to leave Italy and return home.  His chief aides were gladiators from Gaul and Germania, named CrixusCastusGannicus and Oenomaus.  The Senate sent an inexperienced praetor, Claudius Glaber, against the rebels, with a militia of about 3,000. They besieged the rebels on Vesuvius blocking their escape, but Spartacus had ropes made from vines and with his men, climbed down a cliff on the other side of the volcano, to the rear of the Roman soldiers, and staged a surprise attack. Not expecting trouble from a handful of slaves, the Romans had not fortified their camp or posted adequate sentries.  As a result, most of the Roman soldiers were still sleeping and killed in this attack, including Claudius Glaber.  After this success many runaway slaves joined Spartacus until the group grew into an army of allegedly 140,000 escaped slaves.
Spartacus is credited as an excellent military tactician and his experience as a former auxiliary soldier made him a formidable enemy, but his men were mostly former slave laborers who lacked military training. They hid out in the Caldera on Mount Vesuviuswhich at that time was dormant and heavily wooded, and this enabled them to train properly for the fight with the Romans.  Due to the short amount of time expected before battle, Spartacus delegated training to the Gladiators who trained small groups, and these then trained other small groups and so on leading to the development of a fully-trained army in a matter of weeks.  By spring they marched north towards Gaul.
Apparently, Spartacus had intended to march his army out of Italy and into Gaul (now BelgiumSwitzerland and France) or maybe even to Hispania, where Roman soldiers were fighting, to join the rebellion of Quintus Sertorius.  There are theories that some of the non-fighting followers (some 10,000 or so) did in fact cross the Alps and return to their homelands.  The rest marched back south, and defeated two more legions under Marcus Licinius Crassus, who at that time was the wealthiest man in Rome. At the end of 72 BC, Spartacus was encamped in Rhegium (Reggio Calabria), near the Strait of Messina. Spartacus's deal with Cilician pirates to get them to Sicily fell through. In the beginning of 71 BC, eight legions of Crassus isolated Spartacus's army in Calabria. With the assassination of Quintus Sertorius, the Roman Senate also recalled Pompey from Hispania; and Marcus Terentius Varro Lucullus from Macedonia.
Spartacus managed to break through Crassus's lines and escape towards Brundisium (now Brindisi), but Pompey's forces intercepted them in Lucania, and the slaves were routed in a subsequent battle at the river Silarus, where Spartacus is believed to have fallen. According to Plutarch, "Finally, after his companions had taken to flight, he (Spartacus) stood alone, surrounded by a multitude of foes, and was still defending himself when he was cut down".  According to Appian, "Spartacus was wounded in the thigh with a spear and sank upon his knee, holding his shield in front of him and contending in this way against his assailants until he and the great mass of those with him were surrounded and slain"; The body of Spartacus was not found.
After the battle, legionaries found and rescued 3,000 unharmed Roman prisoners in their camp. 6,600 of Spartacus's followers were crucified along the via Appia (or the Appian Way) from Brundisium to Rome. Crassus never gave orders for the bodies to be taken down, thus travelers were forced to see the bodies for years after the final battle. Around 5,000 slaves, however, escaped the capture. They fled north and were later destroyed by Pompey, who was coming back from Roman Iberia. This enabled him also to claim credit for ending this war. Pompey was greeted as a hero in Rome while Crassus received little credit or celebration.
Okay, so why the title?  Easy.  After reading all of the above, you can understand the fight for freedom from slavery.  You should also understand the timeframe, with regard to sexuality.  Love was accepted, man and woman, man and man, woman and woman, and so on!  Intercourse was just that, intercourse.  So, lets put this together. 
Spartacus, the historical underdog, leads an army to change the face of his world.  He has been a slave, a gladiator and a soldier.  Slaves were used at will for sexual relations.  Gladiators were used as prostitutes by their owners, and would fetch high prices from both male and female patrons.  Soldiers shared intercourse in both show of rank and to build army loyalty.  So, since this man, Spartacus, fulfilled not one, but all three of these roles, it is fairly apparent that he had to know the love of another man.
So, to close this out, here we go.
Spartacus, went from soldier, to slave, to gladiator, to leader of his own army.  He had been intimate with other men.  He changed the face of history.  He did all of this in a skirt.  Oh, and he was really good with his sword.  This is one "fag" you don't want to piss off!
Get it? 


The Incredible Woody April 15, 2009 at 7:53 PM  

Good with his sword - bwahahaha!!

(Sometimes!) Serendipitous Girl April 15, 2009 at 9:29 PM  

Woody took my line! Which when you think about it, is quite appropriate ; )

belladella April 16, 2009 at 8:38 AM  

Got it! ;) I thought it had something to do with all that!

Jason, as himself April 16, 2009 at 1:28 PM  

This is a perfect explanation. Thank you.

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Big Hair Envy April 17, 2009 at 1:00 PM  

I like a man who can wield his sword ;)

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