The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Study of Core Texts and Ideas presents Barry Strauss, author and professor of history and classices at Cornell University.
Spartacus was a real historical character, leader of ancient history’s largest slave revolt, but we remember him for his mythic qualities – from Kirk Douglas’s celluloid portrait to Khatchaturian’s ballet. It’s no surprise that a great opponent of slavery and empire like Marx looked up to Spartacus, but so did the ardent imperialist Sallust as well as that connoisseur of great men, Plutarch. What did they all see in the rebel gladiator? To answer the question sheds light on the nature of gallantry, a trait too little appreciated today.