Historical Nonfiction

fun facts, quotes, and pictures from history
In the entrance hall of a fairly ordinary house in ancient Pompeii, buried beneath layers of later paint, are the faint traces of an intriguing sketch of two men fighting on horseback. They are named in captions above their heads, written in Oscan—one of the early languages of South Italy that was eventually wiped out by the Latin of the Romans. The name of one is scarcely legible, but probably says “Felix the Pompeian” (or “Lucky from Pompeii”). The other reads clearly, in Oscan, “Spartaks,” which in Latin would be “Spartacus”—a name best known to us from the slave and gladiator who in the late 70s BC led a rebellion that, it is said, very nearly managed to defeat the power of Rome itself.
The trumpters on either side of the horsemen suggest it is a depiction of gladiators who fought on horses, called equites. The Oscan language, and the site setting puts it in the time of the famous Spartacus. Plus, Pompeii is only forty miles from Capua, where Spartacus trained to be a gladiator and is said to have started his rebellion. So Capua and Pompeii were likely in the same gladiatorial circuit. If it is the “real” Spartacus, and not another, less famous, one as skeptics assert, then it is the only known image of him as an ordinary gladiator. And not a very successful one, at that.

In the entrance hall of a fairly ordinary house in ancient Pompeii, buried beneath layers of later paint, are the faint traces of an intriguing sketch of two men fighting on horseback. They are named in captions above their heads, written in Oscan—one of the early languages of South Italy that was eventually wiped out by the Latin of the Romans. The name of one is scarcely legible, but probably says “Felix the Pompeian” (or “Lucky from Pompeii”). The other reads clearly, in Oscan, “Spartaks,” which in Latin would be “Spartacus”—a name best known to us from the slave and gladiator who in the late 70s BC led a rebellion that, it is said, very nearly managed to defeat the power of Rome itself.

The trumpters on either side of the horsemen suggest it is a depiction of gladiators who fought on horses, called equites. The Oscan language, and the site setting puts it in the time of the famous Spartacus. Plus, Pompeii is only forty miles from Capua, where Spartacus trained to be a gladiator and is said to have started his rebellion. So Capua and Pompeii were likely in the same gladiatorial circuit. If it is the “real” Spartacus, and not another, less famous, one as skeptics assert, then it is the only known image of him as an ordinary gladiator. And not a very successful one, at that.

(Source: nybooks.com)

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    I feel like if Spartacus was a poorly-skilled gladiator he wouldn’t have went on to lead the gladiator uprising. But...
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