I've been thinking and why did it take Rome so long to suppress the Spartacus Revolt, and what did Marcus Licinius Crassus do differently than other Roman Generals, as he was able to defeat Spartacus & his rebels eventually.

A few links which I've read some time ago for info / curiosity.



  • Danielle Bolelli's podcast "History on Fire" had a couple of episodes about Spartacus Revolt. He went into some level of detail over what the reasons were.
    – DVK
    Jun 30 '16 at 20:25

At their peak, the slaves numbered approximately 100,000 men, more than Hannibal's Carthaginians. Having enjoyed over a century of freedom from invasion, the Romans could not conceive of such a large force on their soil, never mind one built of slaves.

Crassus was one of Rome's most capable commanders, who had trained under a famous Roman general, Sulla. He later formed a "Triumvirate" with Pompey and the greatest of them all, Julius Caesar. Crassus was a ruthless man who performed the act of "decimation," killing every tenth man, of a unit that displayed cowardice. He re trained the Roman army into its later form (the one that Caesar used successfully) with throwing spears and short swords. He declined to fight the hard fighting rebels, when possible, preferring to outmaneuver them. Finally, he was reinforced by Pompey, another capable general, who brought his legions from Gaul.

  • Was it true that Pompey got all of the credit for defeating Spartacus?
    – Gerwin
    Jun 22 '16 at 12:21
  • 1
    @Gerwin: Actually Pompey arrived after the main battle, with both sides exhausted, and got credit for "mopping up," that is quashing the last embers of the rebellion. Spartacus sought, and nearly got, a personal combat with Crassus, killing some of his retainers.
    – Tom Au
    Jun 22 '16 at 12:23
  • Is it known who actually did the killing blow to Spartacus / how he died? In the show Spartacus: Army of the Damned - spoiler alert - he dies after being pierced by 3 spears
    – Gerwin
    Jun 22 '16 at 12:24
  • 1
    @ Gerwin: No one knows for sure, with the passage of time, no electronic records and few paper records. What passes for "history" is mostly historical "reconstruction."
    – Tom Au
    Jun 22 '16 at 12:34
  • I think terrain played a part: IIRC, the rebel army holed up on a mountain plateau. Very easily defended, very difficult to approach. The rebels had better terrain, far better motivation, and a spot of luck.
    – MCW
    Jun 22 '16 at 12:40

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