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Spartacus Road

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Spartacus Road

Peter Stothard

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ISBN 13: 978-1590203231
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The name Spartacus is one familiar to most. He was the Thracian gladiator who rose up from slavery in 73 B.C. to defeat every Roman army sent to destroy him—before his defeat and crucifixion. Trained at the gladiatorial school, Spartacus escaped. Joined by approximately seventy followers, his army increased to allegedly 140,000 slaves.

Today, his struggle is widely perceived as the fight for freedom, but this hasn’t always been the case; the ancient Romans were embarrassed by Spartacus’s victories over them; the Greeks admired him; and others viewed his uprisings as the embodiment of cruelty.

In this fascinating and original work, Stothard retraces the journey taken by Spartacus and his army of rebels, taking us back to an ancient world which confronted similar issues to those we face today—the perils of religious belief; the comfort of organized religion; the virtues of public life. As he travels along the Spartacus road, Stothard breathes new life into the story of Spartacus and the greatest slave war in antiquity. He tells it, definitively, for our time.

Peter Stothard is the editor of The Times Literary Supplement after having edited The Times in the decade of its greatest success with readers.


"Now comes a distinguished contribution to the field by the British journalist and classicist Peter Stothard. "Spartacus Road" is a work of history, telling us of Spartacus' life and legend, but it is also a travel book, as Mr. Stothard follows Spartacus' rebellious path through 2,000 miles of Italian countryside… Ancient history often comes to us in this form—as a kind of mosaic that we must piece together for ourselves, as Mr. Stothard has done so well here. And it still arouses modern passions. Mr. Stothard's engaging book reminds us that, for all the secrets the story of Spartacus refuses to give up, it still leads us back to the heart of things." -- The Wall Street Journal

“Spartacus Road is not a route you can track on your GPS, and Stothard’s book is no conventional guide. It’s an eloquent, sometimes hilarious, account of his travels in Italy, as well as a thoughtful and accessible primer on the history and culture of the ancient world. Unexpectedly, this book is also a deeply personal account of the author’s battle with cancer...At every stop, ancient or modern, Stothard’s erudition and lightheartedness, his familiarity with the classical world and his modern sensibility make this book a delightful read...Stothard describes this world with clarity and humor...Readers will be tempted to grab a copy of his “Parallel Lives” to travel on for themselves.” --Cleveland Plain Dealer

" This is one of those rare books in which there is something of unexpected interest on every page, and which makes the reader wish he or she could pack a small bag and accompany the author on his travels." –Michael Korda, The Daily Beast

"Spartacus Road makes for a wonderfully rich and endlessly thought-provoking brew.... Beautifully written, musing and far-sighted… it's an astounding success." –Christopher Hart, Literary Review

“Stothard provides valuable insights into the nature of Roman society and culture in which as much as a third of the population may have endured various forms of slavery.” -- Booklist

“Peter Stothard’s account of his journey is the footsteps of Spartacus’s army is not just a travel book, but also a memoir of surviving cancer… The idea for this book was...to retrace the steps of the rebel slave Spartacus and his men for 2,000 miles through the Italian countryside. It would be an opportunity to retell one of the great underdog stories of the ancient world: how a motley bunch of slaves repeatedly defeated the might of the Roman army between 73 and 71BC. It would be a chance to compare ancient and modern Italy, to meditate perhaps on slavery and liberty, to think about the dynamics of asymmetric warfare and so one.” – The Sunday Times

"A fusion of memoir, history and travelogue that is unlike any other book ever written about Spartacus, and all the more precious for being quite so unexpected." –Tom Holland, The Spectator

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