Short summary - Spartacus - Raffaello Giovagnoli

Italy literature summaries - 2023

Short summary - Spartacus
Raffaello Giovagnoli

November 10, 78 B.C. e. the streets of Rome were crowded with people - everyone was in a hurry to the Circus Maximus. The three-day holiday, hosted by the Roman dictator Lucius Cornelius Sulla the Happy, began a day ago and has now reached its climax - gladiator fights. In a huge amphitheater, both commoners and the Roman nobility, led by Sulla, gathered. The beautiful matron Valeria, who divorced her husband a week ago, was also present at the battles.

While the gladiators divided into two groups were fighting in the arena, Sulla was talking with Lucius Sergius Catiline, a very brave patrician with a quick temper. Nearby sat a beautiful Greek woman, the courtesan Eutibida. Meanwhile, one of the groups began to win - seven surrounded three, among whom was the mighty and beautiful gladiator Spartacus. He was a Thracian leader and fought against the Romans, then was taken prisoner and served for some time in the Roman army. When Rome again began the war with Thrace, Spartacus deserted to fight for his homeland, was captured again and became a gladiator slave.

Despite the numerical superiority of the enemy in the arena, Spartak did not give up. He attacked seven gladiators and destroyed them. The enthusiastic audience demanded from Sulla freedom for the brave gladiator, the request was supported by Valery, and he had to release Spartacus. Soon Sulla got bored with the sight, and he left, having previously offered Valeria to become his wife.

In the evening, Spartak celebrated his release in the tavern of Venus Libitina. Despite the victory, the gladiator was sad, because only he received freedom, and his friends remained slaves, doomed to death. In the midst of the celebration, Catiline entered the tavern. He wanted to share with Spartak the money won thanks to his victory. Catiline whispered to the gladiator that he knew about his secret struggle to free the slaves and shared his views. At that moment, a beautiful fair-haired Thracian girl entered the tavern. As a pimp's slave, she was forced into prostitution. Spartak recognized her as his long-lost sister Mirtza.

Spartak tried to ransom his sister, but the owner asked for a huge amount for her. Then the gladiator gave the villain Catiline's money on the condition that Myrna would be released from work for a month and settle in a separate room. For a month, Spartacus became close friends with the "rebellious patrician" Catiline. Meanwhile, the gladiator's friend managed to arrange so that Mirna was bought by the beautiful Valeria, who had already become Sulla's wife.

Having saved his sister from a cruel master, Spartak came to grips with the conspiracy. With his companions, the gladiators Crixus and Artorix, he went to gladiatorial schools and taverns, putting together the backbone of the future army. Not limited to Rome, they made acquaintances in Capua. There they were supported by the German gladiator Enomai, a brave man, but gullible and imprudent. Two months after meeting Catiline, Spatrak realized that they were not on the same path. If the gladiator wanted to achieve freedom for all slaves and overthrow the power of Rome over the world, then the patrician wanted to change the existing order only in favor of the free Romans. He, like everyone else, considered the natives of other countries to be barbarians, unworthy of freedom. At a reception hosted by Catiline in his honor, Spartacus was convinced that he and his friends were ready to fight the Senate only for the rights of free citizens of noble birth. He declared that he was abandoning his plan, after which he changed the password and the signs by which the conspirators recognized each other.

After a triumphant victory in the circus, Spartak attracted the attention of two women - Valeria and Eutibida. The gladiator bowed before the beauty and intelligence of Valeria. Mirtsa soon informed her brother that her mistress was offering him the position of a lanista, the head of the gladiatorial school that Sulla had organized on his country estate. On the same evening, Spartak and Valeria became lovers. In the “intoxication of love”, the gladiator almost forgot the “holy cause of freedom”, which he swore to bring to the end.

At this time, Spartacus received an invitation from Eutibida, allegedly related to a conspiracy that the Greek woman found out about. Pretending to be like-minded Spartacus, she tried to seduce him. The charms of the red-haired Greek woman left the gladiator indifferent. The insidious Eutibida could not come to terms with the fact that the gladiator rejected her. She instructed her admirer, the actor Metrobius, to find out about the plans of the gladiator, found out about his connection with Valeria and ordered to obtain evidence of this connection.

Meanwhile, the plot of Spartacus was almost revealed. A spy, a scapegoat of one of Catalina's friends who were present at the reception, entered the tavern of Venus Libitina. He did not believe that the gladiators would so easily abandon their plans, and decided to report them to the Senate, hoping to receive a large amount of money. Fortunately, Crixus noticed the spy in time and ordered his execution.

Eight days later, Metrobius appeared before Eutibida with evidence. Having bribed the slave Valeria, he saw Spartak leave the bedroom of the venerable matron at night. That same evening, Eutibida sent an anonymous denunciation to Sulla, but soon realized that the denunciation would harm not only the hated Valeria, but also her beloved Spartak. A few hours later she sent Metrobius to intercept the messenger.

After spending the night in a lewd orgy, Sulla basked in the hot pool. The day before, he learned about the disrespectful statement addressed to him. Now the unfortunate man was brought to the baths, and Sulla watched the punishment. A bloody spectacle, a sleepless night and hot water led the dictator to death. He did not have time to read Eutibida's denunciation.

Sulla's death caused unrest in Rome. The city was divided into his supporters and opponents. At this time, Spartacus was offered a position as a fencing teacher in a large gladiatorial school in Capua, where he could recruit several thousand soldiers for his army. Having made a difficult choice between love and duty, Spartacus went to Capua.

February 15, 73 B.C. e. Gaius Julius Caesar returned to Rome. He invited Metrobius to dinner, but by the evening the comedian was so drunk that he did not reach Caesar's house, but crouched in a clearing that Spartak used for secret meetings. Waking up, Metrobius heard voices - these were the gladiators discussing their plot. Having got out of the clearing unnoticed, the comedian rushed to Caesar. Deciding to use the conspiracy for his own purposes, Gaius Julius went to the tavern of Venus Libitina and warned Spartak of the danger. Caesar managed to understand that the gladiator was a talented commander, and called him to go on a campaign. He believed that the absolute freedom for which Spartacus was fighting was impossible, but the gladiator did not want to give up and leave his friends.

The next morning, Metrobius informed the Senate about the impending uprising. Immediately after the conversation with Caesar, Spartacus rushed to his school, but did not have time - the messenger with the order of the senators to close all the gladiators in the school buildings managed to do it earlier. The military tribune Titus Servilian, an arrogant young man, was entrusted with crushing the uprising. Having hardly made his way beyond the fence of the school, Spartak found his soldiers ready for battle, but without weapons. He armed them with burning torches and ordered them to fight their way to the doors of the armory rooms. However, the military legions had already approached the school, and the gladiators had to disperse to their rooms. Spartacus, with a hundred of his comrades-in-arms, fought his way out of the city and camped on Mount Vesuvius, gathering all the slaves from the surrounding villas along the way.

Spartacus sent messengers to major cities, and soon groups of gladiators began to flock to the rebel camp. The rebels set up a camp on a site surrounded on three sides by gorges and sheer cliffs. Soon Spartacus crushed the legions of Titus Servilian. The prefects of the surrounding cities asked for help from Rome, but the senators did not take the slave uprising seriously, and the country at that time was waging more serious wars. In the end, an experienced warrior, the tribune Claudius Glabra, was assigned to suppress the uprising. Meanwhile, Spartacus managed to form an army according to the Roman model.

Approaching the camp of gladiators, Glabr realized that the rebels were trapped, and he only had to wait until they ran out of provisions. However, Spartak found a way out. He ordered to weave the longest ladders of willow rods. According to them, the gladiators descended to the bottom of the gorge, went around the rock, attacked the legions of Glabr at night and defeated them. Thus began the victorious march of the army of Spartacus.

After 20 days, the legions of the rebels, numbering more than 5,000 people, were already in Campania. Spartacus introduced the strictest discipline in his army. The gladiators did not rob civilians, so the cities of Campania surrendered to them one by one. Two months later, the Senate sent an army against the gladiators, led by Praetor Publius Varinius. By this time, Spartacus, joined by Crixus, who had fled from Rome with a large detachment, managed to train his legionnaires well, and defeated the praetor's army without much loss. The advantage of Spartacus was the speed of movement of his army, while the Roman legions acted according to once and for all established rules and were predictable.

Having won, Spartacus moved to Capua, rescued the gladiators remaining there and returned to his camp in Campania for a month. Mirtsa soon arrived at the camp to look after her brother. The true friend of Spartacus Artorix also returned. Mirtsa told her brother that Valeria, who admires him and considers him a great commander, is always sad. Her only consolation is her little daughter Postumius. At this point, Spartacus was informed of a young soldier from Rome. To the surprise of the gladiator, Eutibida was hiding under the combat ammunition. Pretending to sympathize with the cause of Spartacus, she gave him all her fortune and asked him to take her as an orderly. Meanwhile, Varinius recruited new troops, but this did not help him - despite the unauthorized actions of the German Enomai, Spartacus defeated the legions of the praetor in a long and bloody battle.

After the battle, the gladiators stopped to rest in the former Roman apartments, where slaves flocked from all over the country. Spartacus created an army that was neither discipline nor military skill inferior to the Roman one. Spartacus gave one of the legions under the command of Artorix, who fell in love with Mirtsa. The girl who stayed with her brother reciprocated, but considered herself unworthy of his love. Spartacus, taking advantage of the respite, spent the night with Valeria. It was his last meeting with his daughter and lover. The old housekeeper of Valeria, whose two sons went to the gladiator's army, believed that the slaves did not need freedom - without the support of the owners, the slaves would simply die of hunger. The words of the old man made Spartak hesitate for a moment, but after much thought, his former confidence returned to him.

Meanwhile, Rome was seriously frightened by the formidable army of gladiators, and transferred the leadership of the army to an experienced commander, the patrician Caius Anfidius Orestes. The commander tried to outwit Spartacus by sending "deserters" to him with false information, but the gladiator figured out this trick. There was a battle that brought heavy losses to both sides and another victory for the gladiators. Spartacus decided not to go to Rome, "where every citizen was a soldier," but to withdraw the army to Apulia and increase it at the expense of runaway slaves. Soon an ambassador from the Senate came to Spartacus. He offered the gladiator a high post in the Roman army or the position of prefect and a quiet life with Valeria and his daughter if he disbanded his army or led the soldiers to the slaughter. Spartacus refused.

At night, Eutibida tried to seduce the gladiator, but he rejected her. The offended Greek woman vowed revenge. In the morning, Spartacus made Eutibidus Enomai's orderly. The Greek woman quickly subdued the narrow-minded German and inspired him with distrust of Spartacus. The gladiator decided to offer Catalina to take command of his army, thereby attracting some of the free-born Romans to his side and turning the uprising of despised slaves into a civil war. Learning from Oenomaus about these plans, Eutibida ordered a trusted servant to intercept and kill the messenger sent by Spartacus to Catalina.

Another gladiator's messenger, Artorix, reached the patrician, but Catiline refused Spartacus's offer - the proud Roman was disgusted by the thought of leading an army of dirty slaves. In the house of the patrician, Artorix heard Metrobius chattering - he boasted that he had exposed the conspiracy of the gladiators. The comedian recognized Artorix and decided to grab him, but the gladiator escaped, and the actor died.

Having lost hope of conquering Rome, Spartacus decided to cross the Alps and disband the army. He hoped that the former gladiators would return to their countries and raise uprisings there against the Roman yoke. The senate meanwhile sent against him two consuls, Lentulus and Helius, with a huge army. The military council approved Spartak's plan to leave through the Alps, only Enomai was against it. Eutibida inspired the German that Spartacus had sold himself to the Senate. The Greek woman kept her relationship with Enomai in deep secrecy, and Spartacus did not suspect that someone had a bad influence on his friend. One night the German legions left Spartacus' camp. The gladiator hardly stopped the Gauls, who also decided to follow the Germans.

Enomai marched on Rome. Spartacus, having defeated the army of Lentulus, hastened to help him, but did not have time - the German legions were easily defeated by the army of the consul Helium. The gladiator arrived on the battlefield when everything was already over, attacked Helius and defeated his legions. For Enomai, this was the last battle. Dying from numerous wounds, he called Eutibida, but she treated him with contempt, and the German realized how much he was mistaken. The Greek woman pretended to be wounded. She was found among the corpses, Spartacus was delighted with the imaginary valor of the girl and enrolled her in the orderlies of Crixus. Wasting no time, Eutibida rubbed herself into the trust of the kind and naive Mirtsa. Freely moving around the camp, she found out that some military leaders were unhappy with the intention of Spartacus to stop the uprising. They wanted to go to Rome. When Spartacus began to prepare for the next battle, the freeborn Caius Gannicus and the Numidian Orcil announced that after the battle they would separate from the main army and move on Rome. After another victory, the gladiator decided to submit to the will of the majority, although he knew that this would lead the army to death.

Despite the iron discipline established by Spartak, the army of many thousands began to decompose from the inside. The soldiers, accustomed to constant victories, relaxed, began to think about profit and rob the surrounding villages. Spartacus stopped this by executing Orcil, the most indefatigable marauder.

Meanwhile, the frightened senate placed the newly elected praetor Marcus Licinius Crassus at the head of the army. The Romans and the rebels tried to deceive each other by making long marches and ingenious maneuvers. One night, Eutibida appeared to Crassus and proposed a cunning plan based on betrayal. Using the position of an orderly, she undertook to confuse and divide the gladiator's army. As a result of this vile intrigue, Crixus died and a significant part of Spartacus' army was destroyed, and the captured gladiators were crucified on crosses along the roads. So Spartacus found out about the betrayal of Eutibida.

Wanting revenge, Spartacus attacked the army of Cassus, who was celebrating his victory, defeated him and ordered the captured Romans to be crucified. A series of battles pushed the gladiatorial army back to the city of Temes, where Spartacus fortified himself and ordered to build a fleet of small boats.

Mirtsa often visited the temple dedicated to Mars Lucan. Eutibida, who remained with Crassus, decided to explore the area around the city and came across a temple. Having bribed the priest, she found out that Mirtsa often comes here, and decided to kill her. Taking two soldiers, she set up an ambush near the temple, but at that time a patrol of gladiators passed by. They noticed the Greek woman, she ran, fell into her own trap and died.

Meanwhile, the gladiatorial fleet was ready, but Spartacus was not lucky - the wind and stormy sea did not allow him to sail far. Then the commander built a fortified camp on a small peninsula. Crassus, who soon approached, decided to build a wall with a moat across the isthmus and trap Spartacus. One night, when the wall was almost ready, the gladiators filled the moat with sandbags and left Crassus.

Shortly thereafter, the legions of Caius Gannicus broke away from the army of Spartacus. This gave Crassus the opportunity to further weaken the gladiator army. However, Crassus could no longer appropriate the laurels of victory - the famous Roman commander Pompey, who recently ended the war, came to his aid. Spartacus learned about this from a letter from Valeria, who warned him of the danger and begged him to surrender to Crassus, leave the army and hide in her estate. Artorix, meanwhile, managed to learn the secret of Mirza and assured the girl that this was not an obstacle for him. Spartacus tried to negotiate with Crassus. He wanted the Senate to spare his soldiers, but Crassus contemptuously refused the gladiator, for whom the last hope of salvation had disappeared. Having sent a farewell letter to Valeria, Spartak led his army into the last battle and died.

After the battle, Mirtza found the body of her brother and the seriously wounded Artorix, who died in her arms. Unable to live without her beloved, the girl committed suicide. The sons of the steward Valeria burned Spartacus on a funeral pyre, and took the ashes to their mistress.