Spartacus was one of the most famous gladiators to have walked the ancient world. He was a famous leader of the slaves in the Third Servile War, a major uprising against the Roman Empire.
A one time gladiator and a skilled military leader, Spartacus' story, being that of the downtrodden against the big state, has always struck a chord for many people throughout the ages.
Spartacus was a Thracian who served as a soldier for the Romans, who then fell foul of his employers and became a prisonerer and was subsequently sold as a Gladiator. (Thrace is present day south-western Bulgaria, so you could say that he was Bulgarian (not that the country existed back then)).
Our hero was serving in the Roman legions and later became a slave, or captured by the legions. He was later trained at a gladiator school near Capua, and was among a group of gladiators hatching an escape plan.
Once free, the escaped gladiators chose Spartacus as their leader.
Third Servile War.
The Roman legions at the time were fighting a heavy battle in Spain (Hispania), so they dispatched a police force to deal with the uprising. The commander in charge put them under seige, but Spartacus had ropes made from vines, climbed down the cliffs with his troops and attacked the Roman camp from the rear, slaughtering most of the Romans.
The group also defeated a second force, nearly capturing the commander, killing his lieutenants and seizing spoils of war. Spartacus and his crew became famous, and more and more slaves joined their band of merry men until they numbered over seventy thousand (according to some sources).
Their leader Spartacus proved himself to be an excellent war strategist. He trained his men, recruited further slaves to the cause and expanded his territory to include the towns of Nola, Nuceria, Thurii and Metapontum.
In the spring of 72 BC, Smarty Sparty headed north and Rome, apalled by the defeat of their forces, sent 2 legions under the command of Lucius Gellius Publicola and Gnaeus Cornelius Lentulus Clodianus. After a short lived success, the Romans were again defeated by Spartacus.
With alarm bells ringing over this rebellion, Rome instructed Marcus Licinius Crassus, the richest person in Rome and the only volunteer to crush the rebellion.
Crassus took 8 legions, (40,000–50,000 trained Roman soldiers). He forced Spartacus south through various victories and by the close of 71 BCE, Spartacus was camped out in Rhegium (Reggio Calabria), near the Strait of Messina.
Spartacus made a deal with Cilician pirates to ship him and some 2,000 of his men to Sicily, where he planned to incite a slave revolt and gather troops. But, he was betrayed by the pirates, who took a bribe and then abandoned the rebel slaves.
Spartacus' forces retreated toward Rhegium and came under siege from the Roman army.
The End of Spartacus.
Spartacus' luck was running out. At the same time the legions of Pompey returned from Hispania and headed south to back up Crassus and his fight against the slaves.
Crassus was worried that Pompey would end up taking all of the credit, and Spartacus tried to come to an agreement with the Roman high flier. But Crassus refused, and some of Spartacus' forces fled toward the mountains west of Petelia with Crassus' legions chasing.
Chao reigned over Spartacus' foreces and they became more and more hemmed in. Spartacus mad one last show of strength in a final battle against the legions in a last stand. He was defeated and most of his men were slain on the battlefield.
The end game took place in Senerchia on the banks the river Sele. Spartacus' body was never found, but he is assumed to have died in battle alongside his men.
So if someone asks you "What have the Woughmans Ever Done For US"?, you can say- "well they bumped off Sparticus for a start"