Pirates

In Spartacus by Barry Strauss7 Comments

The reality of the Somali pirates hit home in much of America this past week with the kidnapping and release of an American merchant ship captain. Seizure on the high seas, Navy Seals – this was the real thing. But it had already hit home to me last year, when Somali pirates seized the French cruise ship, Le Ponant. My …

Barry StraussPirates

Holy Days

In Spartacus by Barry Strauss2 Comments

Christians and Jews will both celebrate major holidays this week, with the coming of Passover on Wednesday and Easter on Sunday (Orthodox Easter falls a week later). Spartacus may seem odd in this context: a man who followed the sword and was later idealized by an anti-religious movement, communism. But think again.

Barry StraussHoly Days

Lincoln and Spartacus

In Spartacus by Barry StraussLeave a Comment

Standing in front of the Lincoln Memorial on a visit to Washington, D.C., I couldn’t help comparing the Rebel Gladiator and the Great Emancipator. The differences are legion, but one thing unites the two men: both freed slaves. In each case, emancipation was a means to an end. Spartacus aimed at hurting Rome, Lincoln, at weakening the Confederacy. But Lincoln …

Barry StraussLincoln and Spartacus

Did Thracians Use Facebook?

In Spartacus by Barry Strauss2 Comments

Were they Linked In? Did they Twitter? But seriously, communications presented a problem for the rebel slaves of the Spartacus rebellion. They needed to get the word out to potential recruits without attracting the attention of the masters. The Internet would not have been much help, had it existed, because Rome would have monitored it. Yet the grassroots principles of …

Barry StraussDid Thracians Use Facebook?

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