Spartacus, leader of the slave revolt in 73bc
Gladiators were well trained slaves
It all started at a gladiator school in Capua.
Spartacus was one of the slaves who were trained here. Lentulus Biates the owner ill-treated these slaves. A group of gladiators took an opportunity to escape. They armed themselves with improvised and gladiator weapons. When attacked by soldiers from Capua, they defeated them and armed themselves with these soldiers' weapons.
The man is described as an intelligent and gentile man who takes charge together with Crixus and Oenumaus. Numerous slaves joined the group, that grew rapidly.
The Roman underestimated these forces time and again. They saw them as a bunch of slaves and not as an army. Clodius the praetor with about 2000 had them boxed in on a slippery mountain, but the rebel army escaped by making improvised ropes and attacked Clodius in the back.
Publius Varinius was sent from Rome with 2000 men attacked and was routed. Cossinius came in force and escaped hardly from being killed by the rebels.
Marching to escape Roma fails
Though he was very successful, he realized that he would be no match for a real Roman army and started to march toward the Alps in order to escape and go home. His men on the other hand became now overconfident and started to ravage and plunder.
Roman retaliation fails
Now the senate did exactly what the former gladiator had tried to avoid and charged the consuls Gellius and Lentulus with the task to end this insurrection. Gellius charged the group that had straggled from Spartacus and cut them to pieces. Lentulus who attacked Spartacus however was beaten .
Now the senate appointed Crassus to do this job. He awaited the slave army at the borders of
Picenum (modern Marche) and sent his second Mummius to seek him out but under no circumstance attack or even skirmish with rebels army. Aggressive in good Roman tradition Mummius attacked at the first opportunity and was routed.
Decimation for the loosers
Crassus was furious and had the 500 men, who started the flight, decimated. I.E. 50 of them were beaten to dead in front of the troops. With this and other measures he restored the discipline and drove his opponent back south into Lucania (modern Basalicata).
From here Spartacus tried to escape with ships of some Silician pirates. After he had paid for the voyage they left him and sailed away. He now moved further towards Rhegium. Crassus now had a wall built from the one sea to the other in order to keep Spartacus where he was. But in a dark stormy night rebels would escape with half their army and got into a fight with Crassus.
Spartacus pushed back
This battle Spartacus did not win and he retired to the mountains of Petelia. At last he was defeated by Crassus' army and died on the battlefield. His body was never found.
Pompeius claimes the victory