There have been several depictions of Spartacus and his rebellion through feature films, television shows, documentaries and theatrical plays, as well as historical fiction novels and comic books.

Spartacus - 1909 film

  • Directed by: Oreste Gherardini
  • Starring: Oreste Gherardini

The first adaptation of Spartacus was a short film made in 1909 by Oreste Gherardini, who directed and starred in it as Spartacus. It is since however become a lost film. The second adaptation of Giovagnoli's novel also became the first full feature adaptation of Spartacus in 1913.

Spartacus - 1913 film

  • Spartacus-1913
    Directed by: Giovanni Enrico Vidali
  • Starring: Mario Guaita-Ausonia, Cristina Ruspoli, Enrico Bracci, Maria Gandini, Luigi Mele, Verdi Giovanni, Luciano Albertini, Alberto Capozzi, Signor Fretti, Achille Majeroni, Leo Ragusi
  • Plot: In Eastern Greece, the young Thracian Spartacus is carried as a slave to Rome. His owner, Marcus Crassus, soon asks the powerful youth to stand as a gladiator in the lion arena. Life as a Roman slave under his new master, Consul Crassus, is extremely hard and unjust, even though his love for Crassus' daughter also allows him beautiful moments. When the genius-driven Crassus demands a fight to the death with Amoricus, the fiancée of Spartacus' sister, a revolt against the Romans breaks out. With the help of other gladiators and slaves Spartacus dares the great liberation blow, wrestling the Romans in a surprise coup and fleeing from Rome. At last, in freedom, the proud Thracian begins with the construction of his own army, with which he wants to compete against the house-superior Roman troops. When he heard Senate's news of a revolt against Rome, hasty resolutions were made to counter-defend this rebellion.Spartacus has fallen in love with a country woman, a young Thracian. The first military clash between the Spartocian rebels and the Roman army is taking place in Apulia, near the ancient city of Petilia. Spartacus emerges as the victor in the battle against the troops of his former owner Crassus, but the Spartacus faithful are completely rubbed off in the slaughter in Lucania. Spartacus himself is the victim of a sneaky intrigue and dies a cruel martyrdom.
Spartacus (1913)01:10:58

Spartacus (1913)

Historical Accuracy

Historical Inaccuracies

  • Spartacus is shown to be a slave of Crassus (Spartacus was never a slave of Crassus)
  • Crassus never had a daughter (historically he only had two sons, Marcus and Publius)

Spartak - 1926 film


Spartak was a 1926 Soviet production directed by Muhsin Ertuğrul, and written by Ukrainian futurist poet Geo Shkurupii.

and the third and presumably final adaptation of Raffaello Giovagnoli's novel. Like the 1909 short film directed by Oreste Gherardini, it has become a lost film. It starred Nikolai Deinar, Matvei Lyarov and A. Simonov. The music score was written by the famous Aram Khachaturyan (later he used it while creating his masterpiece ballet ‘Spartacus’ (1954)).

Only remaining production advertisement of the 1926 film

More than 3000 citizens of Odessa was participating in its production. Ilya Il’f mentioned its shooting calling the film «something very ancient Roman». The scandalous story of the production of the ‘Spartak’ was included in the original version of the novel «The Little Golden Calf» by Il’f and Petrov.

‘A Fresh Wind’ was a social drama about a victory of fishermen over rich extortionists, and a debut for all its creators: screenwriters M. Zats and S. Reznikov, Ukrainian director Georgy Stabovoi, Soviet cinematographer Daniil Demutsky (1893-1954) who later became one of the greatest Soviet cinematographers, and almost all actors.

Sins of Rome - 1953 film

  • SinsofRome
    Directed by: Riccardo Freda
  • Starring: Massimo Girotti, Ludmilla Tchérina, Gianna Maria Canale, Yves Vincent, Carlo Ninchi, Carlo Giustini, Teresa Franchini, Vittorio Sanipoli, Umberto Silvestri, Renato Baldini
  • Plot: In 74 BC, somewhere in the Roman Empire, Spartacus, a young officer, is condemned to be a slave by general Marcus Licinius Crassus because he hit a superior. Brought back to Rome and condemned to a gladiators' school, he escapes and stirs up all the slaves in a revolt against the Roman Empire.
Sins of Rome (1953) - Feature ( Adventure, Drama, History)01:10:37

Sins of Rome (1953) - Feature ( Adventure, Drama, History)

Historical Accuracy

  • Spartacus was a legionary in the Roman army.
  • Spartacus was enslaved while in Thrace and taken to Italy where he is then purchased to be trained as a gladiator.
  • Spartacus is killed during the final battle (in the film he is dies after speaking his final words to Amitis, who plays a similar role to Varinia in the 1960 and 2004 films)

Historical Deviations

  • One of the main characters, Sabina, is the daughter of Marcus Crassus (historically Crassus did not have any daughters).
  • Spartacus is enslaved for assaulting a commanding officer (historically he was enslaved after his desertion from the legion). It also assumes him having being enslaved in 74 BC when he was said to have spent at least 2 years in Batiatus' ludus, in which case he would have been enslaved in at 75 or 76 BC.

Spartacus - 1960 film

  • Spartacus1960film

    1960 Spartacus poster.

    Directed by: Stanley Kubrick
  • Starring: Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier, Jean Simmons, Charles Laughton, Peter Ustinov, Tony Curtis, John Gavin
  • Plot: Spartacus is purchased by Lentulus Batiatus and trained as a gladiator. After entertaining the wealthy Marcus Crassus and his guests.
Spartacus Official Trailer -1 - Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier Movie (1960) HD02:43

Spartacus Official Trailer -1 - Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier Movie (1960) HD

Trailer for the 1960 Spartacus film.

Historical Accuracy

  • Crassus crucifies the surviving rebels along the Appian Way.
  • Spartacus defeats Claudius Glaber (renamed Titus Glabrus).
  • Spartacus strikes a deal with the Cilician pirates and is later betrayed.

Historical Deviations

  • Crassus arrives at Batiatus' ludus, and has two pairs of gladiators fight to the death (historically he would have never partaken in such an activity, but would have used his immense wealth to sponsor games in Rome).
  • Crassus elects himself to deal with Spartacus (historically he was appointed by the senate to defeat Spartacus)
  • Spartacus raises an army of 9,000 slaves (historically Spartacus' army numbered over 60-100,000 slaves).
  • Claudius Glaber (renamed Marcus Glabrus) is not killed by Spartacus but is sent back to Rome. Marcus Glabrus is shown to be a close friend of Crassus.
    10) Movie CLIP (1960) HD02:16

    10) Movie CLIP (1960) HD

  • Spartacus is said to have been born into slavery (historically he was a Roman legionary who was enslaved for desertion)
  • Spartacus is sent to Rome after the final battle and is crucified (historically his body was never found)
  • Spartacus was purchased from the mines by Lentulus Batiatus (historically he was sold to Batiatus' ludus after being enslaved by the Romans)
  • Crixus remains with Spartacus and is killed in the final battle against Crassus in 71 BC (historically he seperates from Spartacus with 30,000 rebels and was killed in 72 BC by Gellius Publicola and his soldiers at the Battle of Mount Garganus)

Challenge of the Gladiator - 1965

  • Challengeofthegladiators
    Directed by: Domenico Paolella
  • Starring: Peter Lupus, Massimo Serato, Gloria Milland, Livio Lorenzon, Piero Lulli, Walter Barnes, Andrea Checchi, Dario Michaelis, Franco Ressel, Bruno Scipioni, Salvatore Borghese
  • Plot: Treacherous Roman senator Lucius Quintilius plans a secret journey into Thrace to recover a legendary treasure. He is accompanied by his daughter Livia posing as a Christian slave girl, his cruel henchman Commodio, and Terenzius, an ex-gladiator and Nero look-alike who fools the local Thracians into believing he is the real Emperor. But Lucius's plans are thwarted by Spartacus and his band of rebels who succeed in capturing the treasure for Thrace. When news arrives from Rome that the real Nero has died, local Roman governor Consul Metellus joins forces with Spartacus to defeat the traitors.

Historical Accuracies

Historical Deviations

2004 Miniseries

  • Spartacus2004film
    Directed by: Robert Dornhelm
  • Starring: Goran Višnjić, Alan Bates, Angus Macfadyen, Rhona Mitra, Ian McNeice, Paul Kynman, Paul Telfer, James Frain
  • Plot: After he is bought by the owner of a Roman gladiator school and trained as an gladiator A slave leads a rebellion of slaves and gladiators into revolt against Rome.

Historical accuracies

  • Claudius Glaber (renamed Titus Glabrus) and his army is defeated by Spartacus and the rebels at Mount Vesuvius
  • Publius Varinius (renamed Publius Maximus) and his army is defeated by Spartacus and the rebels
  • The battle against Mummius occurs, though it is only mentioned, and not shown.
  • Crassus crucifies the surviving rebels along the Appian Way.
  • Spartacus strikes a deal with the Cilician pirates and is later betrayed.

Historical Deviations

  • Spartacus is stabbed to death in the final battle (historically his body was never found)
  • Mummius, one of Crassus' tribunes, and Commodus (not historical), are forced to fight as gladiators
  • Marcus Crassus uses decimation on his legions, but only 150 soldiers are killed (historically it would have been around 1,000)
  • Two other rebel leaders were Nardo and David (not historical figures)
  • The movie has Varinius (Publius Maximus) being killed during his battle against Spartacus (Historically, he survived, becoming governor of the province of Asia in 65 BC).
  • Neither Oenomaus or Castus appear in the film
  • Crixus claims to have been in the previous slave rebellion led in Sicily (the Second Servile war) which happened 26 years prior.
  • Gannicus is reimagined as a Thracian (historically he was a Celt)
  • Spartacus was purchased from the mines by Lentulus Batiatus (historically he was sold to Batiatus' ludus after being enslaved by the Romans)
  • Gannicus was killed in the final battle against Crassus (historically he died in the Battle of Cantenna)
  • Crixus is killed by Crassus' troops shortly after the latter separates from Spartacus (historically he dies in the Battle of Mount Garganus in 72 BC)

2005 Animated TV show

  • Spartacus2005
    Directed by: Orlando Corradi
  • Voice cast:
  • Plot: Spartacus leaves his family to join the Roman army. He is eventually framed for a crime and chooses enslavement as a gladiator as punishment.

2010 - 2013 Starz TV series

  • Spartacusgotabasvwotd
    Directed by: Numerous directors
  • Starring: Andy Whitfield, Manu Bennett, Liam Mcintyre, Lucy Lawless, Dustin Clare, Craig Parker, Daniel Feuerriegel, John Hannah, Nick Tarabay, Pana Hema Taylor, Peter Mensah, Simon Merrells, Todd Lasance, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Ellen Hollman, Katrina Law, Lucy Lawless.
  • Plot: Spartacus is betrayed and enslaved by Claudius Glaber and sent to Capua and trained as a gladiator.

Blood and Sand

The series begins in Thrace, where a Thracian tribe called the Maedi agree to enlist in the Roman auxiliary commanded by Legatus Gaius Claudius Glaber. Among them is a Thracian who demands that every last member of the Getae tribe be wiped out, the man who will soon be known as Spartacus. This man, along with the other men of his tribe, fight to the death to beat back their Getae, with only minor help from the Roman army. Soon learning that Glaber intends to march on the Maedi's people, the Thracian and the other men decide to desert the army. Not before long, the Thracian and his wife are enslaved, with the him being sent to Capua to die in the Arena.
The Thracian wins against his executioners in the Arena, and is given the name Spartacus. He is purchased by Lanista Quintus Lentulus Batiatus to be trained as a Gladiator in his ludus.
He suffers mercilessly through the instruction of his Doctore Oenomaus, and his growing rivalry with Crixus, named the Undefeated Gaul. After almost being executed again in the Arena from a foolish fight against Crixus, Spartacus is forced to restore his position as a gladiator by fighting in the Pits, a brutal, lawless and much smaller arena where few rules exist between the fighters. He soon earns back his place among the gladiators, and continues his training. Spartacus, alongside
Surviving in a world of treachery, schemes and blood in the Arena, Spartacus must continuously battle with his own conscience, but how long will it be until he uses it against his true enemies.


The series takes place a number of weeks after the massacre at Batiatus' ludus. The rebels have terrorized Capua for weeks and Claudius Glaber is sent to suppress the revolt

Gods of the Arena

A prequel of the series, taking place 5 years before Blood and Sand. It reveals the origin of Crixus and his rise to champion in the house of Batiatus, and introduces Gannicus

War of the Damned

Takes place 6 months to a year after the defeat of Glaber, the rebels have become an army of over 30,000. Their string of defeats against the Romans have now caused the senate to appoint Marcus Licinius Crassus to defeat the rebellion once and for all.

Historical Accuracies

Historical Deviations

  • The gladiators escape from the Ludus of Lentulus Batiatus during a house party and use swords to make their escape (historically they escaped using kitchen implements and chopping knives)
  • Around 40 gladiators begin the revolt (historically the revolt started with 200 gladiators, and only 78 survived and escaped the ludus)
  • Gladiators in the show are depicted as fighting to the death in every match until one has been killed. However most gladiators were not killed in the arena, and kept alive due to the high cost of slaves.
  • In the show 6 slaves are purchased by Batiatus for 100 denarii. The average price for a slave was 960-4000 denarii (with the cheapest known costing 75 denarii and the most expensive even reaching as much as 50,000 including tax, in the case of a pretty girl).
  • Crixus is beheaded in a battle a few miles from Rome (historically he died in Apulia during a battle against Consul Gellius Publicola in 72 BC at the Battle of Mount Garganus)
  • Gannicus is crucified after the final battle against Crassus with the remainder of Spartacus' force (historically he died with his own army of rebels in the Battle of Cantenna)
  • Lentulus Batiatus is renamed Quintus Lentulus Batiatus (historically he was called Gnaeus Cornelius Lentulus Batiatus)
  • Batiatus is killed by Spartacus during the escape from the ludus (it is unknown if he was actually killed)
  • Oenomaus is reimagined as a Numidian and the doctore of the house of Batiatus (historically Oenomaus was a Gaul)
  • In the fourth episode of War of the Damned, Crassus uses Decimation on 50 soldiers who retreated in a short battle against the rebels and the Cilician pirates, killing 5 of his men (historically around 10,000 retreated. Crassus chose either a cohort of 480-500 men and decimated 50 or decimated the entire 10,000, killing 1,000)
  • Castus is reimagined as a Numidian and a member of the Cilician pirates (historically he was either a Roman or a Gaul and a leader of the rebellion), and he only appears in the last season.
  • Publius Varinius and Quintus Arrius are both killed in the series, (Historically they both survived, Varinius becoming governor of the province of Asia in 65 BC, and Arrius continued in politics until he retired in 52 BC).
  • The rebels take over the city of Sinuessa (there are no sources to support this)
  • By War of the Damned, the rebel army has grown to 30,000 rebels (historically it grew to over 60,000)
  • Agron, a German, becomes a leader of the rebellion (there was no actual rebel leader called Agron)
  • Marcus Crassus has a son named Tiberius (historically he only had two sons: Marcus and Publius)
  • Julius Caesar is involved with Crassus' campaign against Spartacus (it is unknown wether Caesar was involved in the Third Servile War, however many historians agree to this)
  • Gannicus is crucified with the others along the Appian Way (historically he died in the Battle of Cantenna)
  • Castus dies in the final battle (historically he died with Gannicus in the Battle of Cantenna)
  • Crassus crucifies the prisoners before news arrives that Pompey has been rewarded for "defeating" the rebellion (historically he crucifies the prisoners after the news arrives, so Rome would not forget what he did).

Other films

The Slave

  • IlfigliodiSpartacus
    Director: Sergio Corbucci
  • Starring: Steve Reeves, Gianna Maria Canale, Claudio Gora, Jacques Sernas, Ombretta Colli, Ivo Garrani, Enzo Fiermonte, Ahmed Ramzy, Franco Balducci, Roland Bartrop, Renato Baldini
  • Plot: The Decurion Randus holds himself so well in the command of his troops, that Caesar promotes him to centurion. He is subsequently sent to Egypt, to keep Caesar informed on the actions and intentions of co-triumvir Marcus Licinius Crassus - a man too rich, and ambitious, for Caesar's comfort. A fateful sea trip from Egypt to Rome forces Randus in captivity by mercenary troops, and leads a revolt by which he gets freedom for himself, and all the other slaves. Through an amulet he received from his late mother, a man who had fought by Spartacus' side, identifies the young man as Spartacus' and Varinia's son. At first reluctant to accept this story about his origins, Randus will be forced by the circumstances to repeat the feat of his father, twenty years later.

The Revenge of Spartacus

  • Director: Michele Lupo
  • Starring: Roger Browne, Scilla Gabel, Giacomo Rossi-Stuart, Daniele Vargas, Germano Longo, Gianni Solaro, Franco Di Trocchio, Gian Paolo Rosmino, Alfio Caltabiano, Pietro Ceccarelli, Pietro Marascalchi, Mario Novelli, Nello Pazzafini, Calisto Calisti, Antonio Corevi
  • Plot: Arminio and Trasone do believe that the legendary Spartacus is still alive and has organized a group of armed men to destroy the Romans. Valerio, Roman legionary, he discovers the deception and attempts to warn those who believe in the false news. The attempt is unsuccessful . After killing the two Spartacists, Valerio and his followers fought against the remaining forces of Arminius , defeating them after a bitter battle.

Spartacus and the Ten Gladiators

  • Director: Nick Nostro
  • Starring: Dan Vadis, Helga Liné, Alfredo Varelli, Ursula Davis, Gianni Rizzo, Enzo Fiermonte, Salvatore Borghese, Milton Reid, Aldo Canti, Ivano Staccioli
  • Plot: Rocca and nine other gladiators are blacklisted from fighting in the Arena again, but are given the opportunity to return by Senator Varro in any venue they wish. To gain this opportunity, they are charged with capturing the elusive Spartacus, but will ultimately decide, whether to fight the rebel leader, or to join him.

Historical Deviations

  • In the film, Spartacus is said to have been the slave of Senator Varro (historically Spartacus was slave to Lentulus Batiatus).
  • In Spartacus' camp, his own tent is said to be different than the other tents (historically it is assumed that he kept his identity hidden, and so would have lives the same as the others with the same tent and food).

Documentaries and shows

  • Episode 2 on the documentary series Rome: Rise and Fall of an Empire depicts Spartacus' revolt. The episode shows the escape from Batiatus' ludus, followed by their victories over Glaber, Varinius, Furius and Cossinius, Gellius and Lentulus and their defeat by Crassus. The documentary also shows Crixus pitting captured Roman soldiers against each other as gladiators.
  • An episode of the television show Heroes and Villains depicts Spartacus' rebellion. The episode shows the defeat of Claudius Glaber and a few other commanders with their armies. Oenomaus is also shown to have lived through most of the rebellion, and a close friend of Spartacus.

Theatrical plays


  • Spartacus, a novel written by Raffaello Giovagnoli in 1874. The 1913 film was an adaptation of Giovagnoli's book.
  • Spartacus, a novel written by Howard Fast in . It is the basis for the 1960 film and the 2004 miniseries.
  • Spartacus the Gladiator, and the sequel Spartacus: Rebellion, books written by Ben Kane.
  • The Spartacus War, an historical account of Spartacus written by historian Barry Strauss.

Wife of Spartacus

Spartacus was said to have had a wife, who like him, was a Thracian and was enslaved alongside him when he deserted from the Roman army. She was also a priestess, most likely of Dionysus the god of wine. During the rebellion, she possibly would have used this to Spartacus' advantage, telling the rebels that Spartacus was a god, or a demigod. It is unknown what ultimately happened to her, if she even existed.

Spartacus' wife has been given many names in the several depictions, and has been given several origins of her life with Spartacus:

  • In the 1831 play, she is named Senona, and is enslaved with Spartacus along with their son.
  • Varinia is the name of Spartacus' consort and later wife who appears in both the 1960 film and the 2004 miniseries. In the 1960 film, she is re-imagined as a Celt from Britannia (modern Britain) and becomes pregnant with his child. At the end of the film, she sees him crucified outside of Rome with their baby son before he dies, leaving with their son to live in freedom.
  • In the 2004 miniseries, she is re-imagined as a Gallic woman. After having a miscarriage in the middle of the rebellion, she becomes pregnant again, later giving birth to a son just as Spartacus is killed in the final battle, and decides to name him Spartacus. Like the 1960 film, she later escapes Rome (this time being escorted out by Flavius, a friend of senator Agrippa) and settles in an unknown village, raising her son there in peace.
  • In the 2010 TV show Spartacus: Blood and Sand, Spartacus' wife is named Sura, and is enslaved along with him by Legatus Claudius Glaber. Spartacus' winnings in both the Arena and the Pits purchases Sura towards Capua, but is left near dead and dies in Spartacus' arms upon her arrival. It is later revealed that she was killed on the orders of Lentulus Batiatus, starting the rebellion.

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