THE REVOLT OF THE SLAVES
POMPEY'S services were sorely needed at home at this time, and
it was fortunate that the war in Spain was near its
end. The cause of the trouble in Italy was a general
revolt of the slaves.
It seems that at Capua, in southern Italy, there was a
famous school of gladiators. Now, as you doubtless
remember, the gladiators were prisoners of war whom the
Romans trained to fight in the circuses for their
Spartacus, a Thracian, was the leader of these men;
and, when they broke away from their captivity, he led
them to Mount Vesuvius, where they were soon joined
by many other gladiators and runaway slaves. In this
 position they could easily defend themselves, and from
Mount Vesuvius they made many a raid down into the
surrounding country, in search of provisions and spoil.
Little by little, all the Thracian, Gallic, and
Teutonic slaves joined them here, and before long
Spartacus found himself at the head of an army of more
than a hundred thousand men. Many legions were sent
out to conquer them; but the slaves were so eager to
keep their liberty that they fought very well, and
defeated the Romans again and again.
Spartacus, having tried his men, now prepared to lead
them across Italy to the Alps, where he proposed that
they should scatter and all rejoin their native tribes.
But this plan did not meet with the approval of the
 they were anxious to avenge their injuries, and to
secure much booty before they returned home.
So, although Spartacus led them nearly to the foot of
the Alps, they induced him to turn southward once more,
and said that they were going to besiege Rome. In
their fear of the approaching rebels, the Romans bade
Crassus, one of Sulla's officers, take a large army,
and check the advance of the slaves. At the same time,
they sent Pompey an urgent summons to hasten his return
The armies of Crassus and Spartacus met face to face,
after many of the slaves had deserted their leader.
The Thracian must have felt that he would be defeated;
for he is said to have killed his war horse just before
the battle began. When one of his companions asked him
why he did so, he replied:
"If I win the fight, I shall have a great many better
horses; if I lose it, I shall need none."
Although wounded in one leg at the beginning of the
battle, Spartacus fought bravely on his knees, until he
fell lifeless upon the heap of soldiers whom he had
slain. Forty thousand of his men perished with him,
and the rest fled. Before these could reach a place of
safety, they were overtaken by Pompey, who cut them all
Pompey had come up just in time to win the last battle,
and reap all the honors of the war. He was very proud
of this victory, and wrote a boastful letter to the
senate, in which he said: "Crassus has overcome the
gladiators in a pitched battle, but I have plucked up
the war by the roots!"
 Then, to make an example which would prevent the slaves
from ever rising up against their masters again, the
Romans crucified six thousand of the rebels along the
road from Capua to Rome.