7 Things You Might Not Know About Spartacus

The famed Thracian gladiator led a rebellion against Rome. Find out more about Spartacus in Barbarian's Rising on HISTORY. Wednesdays at 10pm.

A heavyweight gladiator, known as a murmillo, fought with an oblong shield called a scutum and a sword with a broad, straight, eighteen inch blade (gladius).

A murmillo fought without chest or foot protection. He wore only a bronze helmet and arm and leg guards.

In 73 BC Spartacus and seventy or so other slaves armed themselves with stolen kitchen utensils and other improvised weapons. This small force fought their way out of the gladiatorial school, seizing proper weapons and armour on the way.

Spartacus' slave army grew and grew until they reached an estimated 70,000-100,000 men. In 72 BC they marched north towards Gaul (modern France, the Low Countries and northern Italy). On route they fought off a series of attacks from Roman forces, before turning south.

After escaping the band of slaves plundered the region surrounding Capua. Further escaped slaves joined their ranks, and the force retired to a defensible position on Mount Vesuvius.

Spartacus' army, forced back by Crassus' forces, ended up in the coastal city of Rhegium across the Strait of Messina from Sicily. A bargain was apparently struck with Sicilian pirates who were supposed to ferry the slave army to safety but (as one might expect from pirates) they did not honour their deal.

In 71 BC on the banks of the river Sale, Spartacus is said to have died in battle, though his body was never recovered. Some accounts tell of him rushing to attack Crassus himself, and coming fairly close, before being overwhelmed.