Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the life of Spartacus, the gladiator who led a major slave rebellion against the Roman Republic in the 1st century BC. He was an accomplished military leader, and the campaign he led contributed significantly to the instability of the Roman state in this period. Spartacus was celebrated by some ancient historians and reviled by others, and became a hero to revolutionaries in 19th-century Europe. Modern perceptions of his character have been influenced by Stanley Kubrick’s 1960 film - but ancient sources give a rather more complex picture of Spartacus and the aims of his rebellion.

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  • Mary Beard 11 episodes
    Professor of Classics at the University of Cambridge
  • Maria Wyke 8 episodes
    Professor of Latin at University College, London
  • Theresa Urbainczyk No other episodes
    Associate Professor of Classics at University College, Dublin

Reading list

  • Slavery and Rebellion in the Roman World 140 BC-70 BC
    Keith Bradley (John Wiley & Sons, 1989) Google Books →
  • I am Spartacus: Making a Film, Breaking the Blacklist
    Kirk Douglas (Open Road Media E-Riginal, 2012) Google Books →
  • Spartacus
    Howard Fast (reprinted M.E. Sharpe, 1996) Google Books →
  • Spartacus
    Lewis Grassic Gibbon (Pegasus Books, reprinted 2012 ) Google Books →
  • The Gladiators
    Arthur Koestler (Vintage Classics, reprinted 1999 ) Google Books →
  • Spartacus
    Aldo Schiavone (trans. Jeremy Carden) (Harvard University Press, 2013) Google Books →
  • Spartacus and the Slave Wars: A Brief History with Documents
    Brent D. Shaw (Bedford, 2001) Google Books →
  • On the Spartacus Road: A Spectacular Journey through Ancient Italy
    Peter Stothard (HarperPress, 2011) Google Books →
  • The Spartacus War
    Barry Strauss (Phoenix, 2010) Google Books →
  • Spartacus: The Myth and the Man
    M. J. Trow (The History Press Ltd, 2006) Google Books →
  • Spartacus
    Theresa Urbainczyk (Bristol Classical Press, 2004) Google Books →
  • Slave Revolts in Antiquity
    Theresa Urbainczyk (Acumen Publishing Ltd, 2008) Google Books →
  • Spartacus: Film and History
    Martin M. Winkler (Wiley-Blackwell, 2006) Google Books →

Related episodes

Programme ID: b03wq2p3

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Auto-category: 937 (Ancient history and civilization)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello. In 1960, the American director Stanley Kubrick made a film starring Kirk Douglas, which was widely acclaimed by the critics and won numerous awards.