Cover: Spartacus, from Harvard University PressCover: Spartacus in HARDCOVER

Revealing Antiquity 19


Product Details


$19.95 • £17.95 • €18.95

ISBN 9780674057784

Publication Date: 03/05/2013


208 pages

4-3/8 x 7-1/8 inches

3 maps

Revealing Antiquity


Add to Cart

Educators: Request an Exam Copy (Learn more)

Media Requests:

Related Subjects

Aldo Schiavone’s Spartacus attempts to go back to [ancient] sources, analyze them intelligently, and see whether we can find the truth and understand something of the real man. He does his best to trace the rebellion step by step, interweaving his narrative with wider consideration of the nature of slavery in the Roman world and its role in the social and economic system… Schiavone offers a readable, generally sensible and certainly thought-provoking discussion of Spartacus and of first-century slavery.—Adrian Goldsworthy, The Wall Street Journal

Spartacus… attempts to strip away the myth from the historical rebel. It is an intelligent, learned, and challenging account… It is also sensibly succinct.—Mary Beard, The New York Review of Books

[This] little book (well under 200 pages, and as small as a dime-store paperback) stands not only as the perfect factual summary of events for the history-curious newcomer…but also as a stylish, engaging guided tour of that summary. Schiavone has a good ear for dramatics and a wonderful way with scene-setting… And although Schiavone reserves his sharpest thinking, fittingly enough, for the subject of slavery in the ancient world, he’s very skilled at filling readers in on all aspects of the ancient Roman world—and the outsized characters like Crassus and Pompey who were eventually tasked with the responsibility of bringing the Spartacus rebellion to a speedy end… We can’t know much about the charismatic power the Spartacus had, and we can know nothing at all about what, if any, political signals he wanted to send (beyond his mere survival, which may have ended up being the sharpest political signal of them all). But it hardly matters: what we do know has seldom been presented in so spry and enjoyable a monograph as this one. Readers should dispense with the novels and take up this book—no less gripping—instead.—Steve Donoghue, Open Letters Monthly

There is an intoxicating intensity in classical studies that is hard to match in any other field, with entire theoretical structures standing or falling on a single word or an interpretation of a verb tense. Schiavone has become known, and deemed worthy of English translation, by approaching the old standards of literary elegance and erudition about as well as anybody… Schiavone’s Spartacus is no arch-liberator, but a prophetic gambler who found himself with no easy escape from Italy and thus sought to turn Rome’s beaten-down neighbor cities against it… You’ve seen the movie: now get the straight dope.—Colby Cosh, Maclean’s

Schiavone attempts to drill down through the sedimented legends to the bedrock of historical fact… To understand who Spartacus was and what he wanted, Schiavone argues, it’s necessary to read against the grain of the text, and to place him as far as possible in a broad historical context… Ironically, [Spartacus] would become more potent in death than he ever was in life: no longer a local warlord but a symbol of freedom who still has the power to inspire and fascinate more than 2,000 years later.—Adam Kirsch, Barnes & Noble Review

This is a highly readable, interesting inquiry into a man and a movement that will never be fully understood.—Jay Freeman, Booklist

No work explains so well and so briefly both the triumphs and ultimate failure of Spartacus.—R.I. Frank, Choice

The author’s goal is to separate the man from the myth and provide a more accurate historical context… Both the newcomer and the experienced Roman historian will find a wealth of entertainment and information.Publishers Weekly

Given current interests in resistance and rebellion, books on Spartacus are proliferating, but this one is different. From the commanding perspective of an eminent historian of Rome, it provides both a critical account based on the original sources and a highly readable narrative of one of greatest slave wars in world history. Schiavone offers a careful reconstruction of what might have happened and a compelling analysis of a losing cause.—Brent Shaw, Princeton University

Recent News

Black lives matter. Black voices matter. A statement from HUP »

From Our Blog

Jacket: Iron and Blood: A Military History of the German-Speaking Peoples since 1500, by Peter Wilson, from Harvard University Press

A Lesson in German Military History with Peter Wilson

In his landmark book Iron and Blood: A Military History of the German-Speaking Peoples since 1500, acclaimed historian Peter H. Wilson offers a masterful reappraisal of German militarism and warfighting over the last five centuries, leading to the rise of Prussia and the world wars. Below, Wilson answers our questions about this complex history,