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Spartacus Home Page




The Real Story

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Spartacus is a historical epic film starring Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier, Charles Laughton and a host of other stars. Released in 1960, the film was a box office smash.  It won four Oscars (Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Color; Best Cinematography, Color; Best Costume Design, Color; Best Supporting Actor, Peter Ustinov)

Historically correct in the overall story, all the major characters are real, but the presentation of their character is fictional. Some liberties were taken with time and space, but for the most part the presentation of the slave revolt is accurate. The characters of the slaves in general, and Spartacus and Varinia in particular, have been improved upon by Hollywood.   For example, very little is know in historical fact about Spartacus' wife.   Plutarch says she was probably a Thracian.  She almost certainly was not a Briton as shown in the film.  in fact, Rome will not invade Briton for another 20 years, so if she were a Briton, she would have had to go to extraordinary lengths to have become a captive of the Romans.

The Romans in general come off somewhat the worse in character - especially Crassus.  But, this is entertainment after all. And, it's Spartacus' story not Crassus'.  You can read about the Real Spartacus in this summary by Professor Barbara F. McManus of The College of New Rochelle.


Fire-rollers hit the Roman front line in the climatic
battle.The film follows the life of the Thracian slave, Spartacus, from his purchase by a trainer of gladiators (Peter Ustinov as Lentulus Batiatus) and his leadership of the revolt (in Part I ) to the climactic battle with the Roman Army and his eventual crucifixion at the order of Crassus (Olivier)(in Part II ). Each part has a plot summary and a scene-by-scene outline, both with pictures. The site is arranged so you can go from one page to any other from all the pages or from the Timeline page.

Spartacus is one of three films that cover the transition of Rome from Republic to Empire. The others ( Cleopatra and I, Claudius) are also available here. They are part of the larger History in Film web site that supports teaching history using popular films. It includes films from Rome up to the war in Vietnam.

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Plot Summary Part I Outline Part I Plot Summary Part II Outline Part II Timeline
Spartacus Movie Poster

Film Stats
Historical epic, Rome.

Stars . Kirk Douglas, Sir Laurence Olivier, Jeanne Simmons, Charles Laughton, Tony Curtis
Director Stanley Kubrick
Producer Kirk Douglas (executive), Edward Lewis
Year 1960
Released by Universal
Based on the book by Howard Fast
Buy the Book
Buy the Book

Buy the Movie
Buy the Movie


If you're a teacher who is interested in using this film and you would like these pages to edit and print as your own, they are all available here as Rich Text Format files in one relatively small WinZip package. Alternatively, if you only want a few of the files, each page has a download link for that RTF WinZip file alone (usually 3 or 4 K). If you would like the short answer essay test that accompanies this film, please E-mail me at the mail box below. I'd be glad to send it back to you.


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