Category Archives: Reflections

Spartacus: Modelling Rebellion in the Church

The Very Revd Prof Martyn Percy, Dean of Christ Church, Oxford

The film, Spartacus (1960; directed by Stanley Kubrick) needs little introduction.  Starring Kirk Douglas as the rebellious slave, it is based on a historical novel by Howard Fast – and inspired by the real life of a Thracian slave who led the revolt in the Third Servile War of 73-71 BCE.  A small band of former gladiators and slaves, perhaps no more than eighty in number, and led by Spartacus, grew to an army of around 125,000, to challenge the might of the Roman Empire.  Kubrick’s film starred Laurence Olivier as the Roman general-politician, Marcus Licinius Crassus.  Peter Ustinov won an Academy Award for best supporting actor as Batiatus, a slave trader.  Jean Simmonds and Tony Curtis also starred. The film won four Oscars.

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