Spartacus was a gladiator from Thrace who commanded a massive slave army during the Third Slaves War, the largest and most successful slave rebellion in Roman history.
The uprising began in 73 B.C. when Spartacus and a small band of slaves escaped from a gladiator school by using kitchen utensils as weapons.
Slaves from across the Roman countryside soon flocked to join the revolt, and the rebel army caused a panic in the Roman senate after it defeated a militia at Mt. Vesuvius and two legions near Mt. Garganus.
According to the ancient historian Appian, as more slaves joined the uprising their ranks swelled to include as many as 120,000 former bondsmen.
But despite their early victories, the slaves later fell prey to disunion and split into several unorganized factions.
The main rebellion was then defeated in 71 B.C. after eight Roman legions commanded by Marcus Lucinius Crassus cornered Spartacus and demolished what remained of his army.
Spartacus died in the battle, and 6,000 surviving slaves were later crucified along a Roman highway as a brutal warning against future revolts.