Shamrocks for Spartacus

In Spartacus by Barry Strauss4 Comments

March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, is a good day for Ireland. I’d like to think that it’s a good day for Spartacus as well, since today is the publication date of my book, The Spartacus War. Spartacus has nothing to do with the Emerald Isle, but he wrote a chapter of Celtic history and he offers distant echoes of the …

Barry StraussShamrocks for Spartacus

On the Road

In Spartacus by Barry Strauss2 Comments

Their life was struggle; their lot was war. Did Spartacus and his followers ever feel the simple thrill of the open road? On an afternoon when things kept going wrong until I sat behind the wheel of a car on the highway, I couldn’t help but wonder. It began in Boston’s Logan Airport, waiting for the shuttle to LaGuardia Airport …

Barry StraussOn the Road

The Ides of March

In Spartacus by Barry Strauss2 Comments

At the time of the outbreak of Spartacus’s revolt, Julius Caesar was still a young man. Only in his twenties, he did not yet bestride the world like a colossus. Caesar never takes center stage in the story of Spartacus but he does waits in the wings, now and then poking his head out. Spartacus negotiated with pirates in 71 …

Barry StraussThe Ides of March

Watchmen

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Tough times evoke dreams of superheroes, even flawed ones like the characters in the new film “Watchmen.” Is the stock market down? Call for Dr. Wall Street. Is unemployment booming? Jobade to the rescue. Is there an insurgency to counter? Here comes Afghanisuperstan. Who, finally, should brood over the whole scene if not Punditocrat?

Barry StraussWatchmen

Freedom

In Spartacus by Barry Strauss2 Comments

“Spartacus, a Thracian man, once served as a soldier with the Romans, but as a consequence of being captured and sold, he ended up among the gladiators. He persuaded about seventy of them to fight for freedom and not for show at the games. After they overpowered the guards he ran off with them” (Appian, Civil Wars 1.116.539).

Barry StraussFreedom

Marzo Pazzarello

In Spartacus by Barry Strauss2 Comments

“March is a crazy kid,” say the Italians. On a day when snow covers New York City and Washington but nothing worse than a blustery – and dry – wind blows here in the Finger Lakes, I’ll take that proverb. We Upstaters don’t wish bad weather on our neighbors, but we smile at the favors of a topsy-turvy month. After …

Barry StraussMarzo Pazzarello

Look Up

In Spartacus by Barry Strauss4 Comments

History is not prayer. To pray is to aim for spiritual elevation while studying the past is more like plodding along. Yet perhaps history prepares the soul, even so, by teaching a simple lesson: we are not the first to pass this way.  Take, for example, the current mood of crisis in much of the world. The economy rumbles; corporations …

Barry StraussLook Up

Sun-Worship, Spartacus Style

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With the season for pilgrimages of a sort upon us – Spring Break road trips for college students, more tony treks for the Palm Beach set – I can’t help but reflect on a detail of Spartacus’s revolt. Most of the rebels were Northerners: Celts, Germans or Thracians (roughly, Bulgarians). The rebellion, however, was almost entirely a southern affair. It …

Barry StraussSun-Worship, Spartacus Style

Slavedog Millionaire

In Spartacus by Barry Strauss2 Comments

If the movie Slumdog Millionaire wins the Oscar for Best Motion Picture on Sunday, it will owe some of its success to the same appeal as Spartacus’s story. Both tales feature an improbable rise from rags to riches – “rags to rajah,” as the film says, so make it “rags to regnum” for Spartacus. Both expose injustice and bigotry. Both …

Barry StraussSlavedog Millionaire

A Valentine from Spartacus

In Spartacus by Barry Strauss6 Comments

Anything can be the stuff of romance when Hollywood gets its hands on it. Take Spartacus’s revolt, the slave uprising that shook Rome. The 1960 film classic Spartacus gave the rebel gladiator (Kirk Douglas) a love interest, Varinia (Jean Simmons), invented in turn by Howard Fast in his 1951 novel of the same name. Aram Khachaturian’s 1952 ballet, Spartacus also …

Barry StraussA Valentine from Spartacus