Spartacus and the Slave Wars
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Spartacus and the Slave Wars : A Brief History with Documents

Edited by Brent D. Shaw

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In 73 BC, in the heart of Rome's Mediterranean empire, a slave named Spartacus ignited one of the most violent episodes of slave resistance in the history of the Roman Empire, indeed in the world annals of slavery. This volume organizes original translations of 80 Greek and Latin sources into topical chapters that look at the daily lives of slaves trained as gladiators and those who laboured on farms in Italy and Sicily, including accounts of revolts that preceded and anticipated that of Spartacus. In a carefully crafted introductory essay, Brent D. Shaw places Spartacus in a broader context of first and second century BCE Roman Italy and Sicily and explains why his story continues to be a popular symbol of rebellion today.

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  • Paperback | 194 pages
  • 138 x 204 x 10mm | 199.58g
  • 20 Feb 2001
  • St Martin's Press
  • New York, NY
  • English
  • Annotated
  • 3 maps, bibliography, chronology, glossary
  • 0312183100
  • 9780312183103
  • 285,266

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Author Information

BRENT D. SHAW is Professor of Classical Studies and Chair of the Graduate Group in Ancient History at the University of Pennsylvania. He has published in many major historical, sociological and anthropological journals, including Past and Present, American Historical Review, History Today, Journal of Roman Studies, Man and American Journal of Sociology and is editor of the collected papers of Sir Moses Finley. He is the recipient of the Lindback Foundation Award for Distinguished teaching at the University of Pennsylvania, and has been Commonwealth Scholar at Cambridge University, an honorary visiting fellow at Churchill College, Cambridge and Goldman Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton. His study of violence in Roman society, especially in civil conflict in the later Roman Empire, helped inspire this volume.

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Review quote

'Here Shaw provides a virtually comprehensive collection of translated sources for Rome's major slave wars, superbly contextualized for the undergraduate student. As a bonus, the reader gets an eye-opening essay on Spartacus as a modern historical icon, the best short introduction to the nature of Roman rural slavery that one is likely to find, and a thoughtfully selected bibliography. Even specialists in ancient slavery will have much to learn from Shaw's incisive analysis.' - T. Corey Brennan, Bryn Mawr College 'Brent Shaw has done a real service by collecting the sources of Spartacus and putting them in the context of earlier Roman slave wars. This volume is impressive: the material is fascinating and the translations are excellent. It is a collection that will challenge students to think about slavery in a comparative context.' - Ronald Mellor, University of California at Los Angeles 'Brent Shaw's collection of ancient testimony relating to Spartacus and slave wars offers a compelling, user-friendly, yet scholarly presentation of one of the most fearful episodes in Roman history. His translations are accurate; the transitional narrative, comments, and explication clear and concise. A brief history of the Spartacus myth offers an additional bonus.' - Valerie M. Warrior, Boston University 'This is an imaginative volume with lively and readable translations. Brent Shaw uses a widely known event, the Spartacus War, to teach about the central social institution that characterized Roman society and slavery, and surveys the historiorgraphy about Spartacus as a tool to discuss modern uses of ancient history.' - Richard Saller, University of Chicago

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