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 began in south-central Italy at Capua (near Naples), almost reached Sicily, and found its center in Thurii, sited on a lush plain in the “sole” of the Italian “boot.”
At the height of the rebellion, Spartacus marched his forces northwards and tried to convince them to climb into the cold hills of the Alps. They ended up back in the warmth of Thurii. No doubt cold and sober matters of strategy and politics pushed them there. They couldn’t have turned back south just for the sun, now, could they have?