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Spartacus: Escape from Capua 73BC

Developed by Andy Douglas for the 2010 Targe wargames show at Kirriemuir. Figures painted by various club volunteers.

In 73 BC Lentulus Batiatus had a school of gladiators at Capua, mostly of Gauls and Thracians. Up to 200 of these gladiators had planned to run away because of the harsh treatment they received. Although the plot was uncovered, up to 78 gladiators still managed to escape by taking cleavers, knives and spits from a kitchen, overpowering the guards and sallying out.

This is the very start of what the Romans later called the “Third Servile war”, “The Gladiator war”, or often, “The War of Spartacus” (73BC-71BC).

The leaders of this revolt are named as Spartacus, Crixus and Oenomaus. Plutarch says the wife of Spartacus, a prophetess was enslaved with him and that later, when they made a camp on Mount Vesuvius, they armed themselves with some gladiator weapons taken from a captured cart, clubs and knives taken from people on the road, and by making fire hardened spears from sticks.


  • Sallust (Gaius Sallustius Crispus) (86-34 BC),
  • “Histories” Book 3 Translation of surviving parts of manuscript: Patrick McGushin
  • Plutarch of Chaeronea (Lucius Mestrius) (c.46-c120 AD)
  • “Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans” or “The Parallel Lives”. Life of Crassus 8-11 tr. R. Warner
  • Publius Annius Florus (c.70? – c.140? AD)
  • “Epitome of the Histories of Titus Livy” 2.8, tr. Edward S Forster
  • Appian of Alexandria (c.95AD- c.165 AD)
  • “The Civil Wars” 1.116-120, tr. John Carter
  • Paulus Orosius (c.375 – 418? AD)
  • “The Seven Books of History against the Pagans”5.24.1– 8, tr. Roy J. Deferrari

Model Based on:

  • Gladiator School at Pompeii
  • Gladiator School Ludus Magnus Rome
  • Gladiator school Ulpia Traiana Roman Colony, Retezat Mountains, Romania
  • Film “Spartacus” Stanley Kubrick