The story of Spartacus is much more than an historical account of the man who led the slave revolt in Rome. It is a story of universal appeal and through the texts this is portrayed as we learn the life story of a relatively minor historical figure who develops into a powerful symbol of freedom. It is the story not only of one's man's quest to revolt against his oppressors and to rise up from a state of disempowerment, but more importantly it is a story which offers hope and strength to mankind. To gain these insights it is necessary to critically analyse the texts of Sallust, Plutarch and Fast, as through these representations one is able to fully comprehend the circumstances and events which were in place during the Spartacus' time.
Howard Fast's novel is the text that truly brings the story of Spartacus to life. It is written in true narrative style and although much of it is based on the historical elements of the slave war it is by no means factual as there are definitive elements of fiction in the text. An example of one of these elements is the fictional character of David the Jew, and it is through him that we learn the most about Spartacus' character.
The novel romanticises and glorifies many of the events and characters of the time. Fast portrays the Romans as extravagant, decadent and extremely affluent and this is best illustrated through the character of Lentulus Batiatus, and this is evident in the opening lines "sat in his office, belching intermittently, his large breakfast making a comfortable bulk in his stomach" (Fast, 1951:77). He is the lanista, and made his own fortune by owning a gladiator school in Capua. "He had his own stone cell-block, his own gymnasium and bath house, his own training course, and his own arena for private shows" (Fast, 1951: 78) shows his excess extravagance and how he shows off his wealth.
Many of the events of the time are glorified and ro…