Spartacus in Dixie

In Spartacus by Barry Strauss2 Comments

Visiting the Old South on a lecture tour about Spartacus, it’s hard not to recall the historical reality of American slavery. I realize that I am walking on ground where people once suffered in slavery. Alas, this is Yankee hypocrisy, because I walk on that ground at home too. Fifty years after the Declaration of Independence said that “all men …

Barry StraussSpartacus in Dixie

The Soul of a Leader

In Spartacus by Barry Strauss6 Comments

I’m reading Waller “Randy” Newell’s new book, The Soul of a Leader: Character, Conviction, and Ten Lessons in Political Greatness (New York: Harper Collins, 2009). It’s a wise and thoughtful study of leaders from Pericles to Obama (up through the election). Newell has the erudition of a professor, which he is, but he writes with a conciseness and understated elegance …

Barry StraussThe Soul of a Leader

un -Just Spring

In Spartacus by Barry Strauss2 Comments

My sources tell me that gladiators are in for spring this year – gladiator sandals, that is. In Imperial Rome, gladiators were always in for spring – the sword-carrying, kill-each-other-for-sport kind. The annual festival from March 19 to 23, known as the Quinquatria, was prime time for gladiatorial contests. Just as the fields of Italy began to bloom with color, …

Barry Straussun -Just Spring

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


In Spartacus by Barry StraussLeave a Comment

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


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