"[Spartacus] was a Thracian from the nomadic tribes and not only had a great spirit and great physical strength, but was, much more than one would expect from his condition, most intelligent and cultured, being more like a Greek than a Thracian. They say that when he was first taken to Rome to be sold, a snake was seen coiled round his head while he was asleep and his wife, who came from the same tribe and was a prophetess subject to possession by the frenzy of Dionysus, declared that this sign meant that he would have a great and terrible power which would end in misfortune...." – Plutarch, Life of Crassus
Spartacus is the world’s most famous slave, and one of the most notorious figures of Ancient Rome. A slave enamored of freedom and willing to fight and die for it, he became especially popular in the years following the Enlightenment, after which he was widely viewed as a poignant champion of liberty in the 18th and 19th centuries. As a result, he became a symbol during struggles like the French Revolution, the American Revolution, the American Civil War, and the struggle for emancipation.
Today, his dual life as a gladiator and a "freedom fighter" makes him fascinating to audiences around the world. His tale, a blend of violent spectacle and civil rights, has been adapted for film (Stanley Kubrick’s memorable Spartacus), television (Starz’s popular television series), and in literature (appearing in everything from historical novels to comics). To this day, Spartacus (Spartaco) is a popular first name in central and southern Italy.