Spartacus (spärˈtəkəs) [key], d. 71 B.C., leader in an ancient Italian slave revolt, b. Thrace. He broke out (73 B.C.) of a gladiators' school at Capua and fled to Mt. Vesuvius, where many fugitives joined him. Their army defeated several Roman forces and moved north, devastating S Italy and Campania; Spartacus' aim was a general escape from Italy, but his followers preferred plunder, and in 72 B.C. they were back in S Italy. They took Thurii and got through a cordon which Marcus Licinius Crassus stretched across the "toe" of Italy. Spartacus was killed in a battle with Crassus in Lucania. Pompey, back from Spain, helped annihilate the survivors. Of the captured slaves 6,000 were crucified along the Capua-Rome highway. After the death of Spartacus, 3,000 Roman prisoners were found unharmed in his camp.
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