Journal Epohi

Getic hypothesis about the origin of Spartacus

Sergey Krykin Moscow University, Moscow, Russia

Pages: 63-78


Ziegler’s supposition whether Spartacus descended from Thracian’s tribe or not doesn’t practically have any grounds. Plutarch knew for certain that the greatest chief came from a nomad tribe. More over the name of Spartacus itself, without any doubt, is of Thracian origin. The image of a leader of a supposedly slave’s rebellion in ancient Italy is perceived as a famous novel’s character. However, the scientific research permits to apprehend some information about Spartacus in a different way. «The revolution» of Spartacus is the final echo of an allied war. It explains the fact that his army didn’t have any desire to leave Italy and also explains his attempts to start the negotiations and conclude peace on good terms. Getting a civil status as well as Catilina’s conspiracy is the main idea of this movement. Spartacus and Catilina’s last supporters died simultaneously long after their leaders’ death. Spartacus wasn’t a slave. Being a chief at the Roman auxiliary horse military detachment he found himself at gladiator’s school where roman warriors were taken to for committing war crimes or defeats. The gladiators were not only the participants of popular roman entertainments but sometimes they could be used as policemen or auxiliary service. Only in the inner discords in Roman Republic they were seldom used as a special detachment. Spartacus started his activity by organizing a military mutiny in Capua then he formed his army with the citizens of Italy who tried to become closer with their status to the citizens of Rome. The Romans defeated the Italics who supported Spartacus and Catilina but in spite of the Romans’ victory many of the Italics got the civil status. The Romans remembered Spartacus as a barbarian who wanted to be in contact with them as equal. In the roman’s history there were several chiefs of barbarian’s auxiliary forces. In the emperor’s period the barbarians little by little became the basis of the roman’s army. Spartacus was one of the first mercenaries in roman’s service, and that’s why he was well aware of all the peculiarities of the best army of the world of those times. More over he appeared to be a hereditary mercenary and a professional cavalry man which helped him to find the tactic alternative to the unconquerable roman’s infantry. He also knew the theatre of war in Italy not worse than the Romans themselves and that meant a lot. The local inhabitants sympathized with him as his army didn’t behave as conquerors. Only the Odryses and the Getae from Thracians tribes had great horse troops, but the Getae lived a nomad life. Marcus Licinius Crassus’s grand son was the first from the Romans who broke through the future Moesia. Before the battle in the region of future Ratiaria he was watching the ritual of a horse killing which he executed later before the battle of Brundisium. In that battle Spartacus tried to strike the roman chiefs and kill Crassus but the grand son of a possibly imaginary winner preferred to fight himself and win in a single combat with an enemy chief. The name of Spartacus became the symbol of a barbarian as it was known from Thracia. The first «warrior» emperor of Rome Maximinus Thrax governed in 235–238 AC. He descended from the Getae and reminded to the Romans somewhat of Spartacus. The officer-cavalry man who came from Thracia and descended from a nomad tribe gives us a hint that Spartacus descended from the Getae.


Spartacus, Thracia, the Getae, cavalry, rebellion, mercenary.


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