Questions for analysis of the film Spartacus: Look for these kinds of issues and back up your conclusions with detailed evidence from the film:

Gender: The ancient narratives about Spartacus's rebellion deal almost exclusively with men; women and sexuality are notably absent. Later chronicles of the story, however, use fictional characters to introduce these elements. For example, the 1874 Italian novel Spartaco, by Raffaello Giovagnoli has Spartacus falling in love with a Roman matron of the patrician order, Valeria. The Romans tempt him to betray his followers in exchange for marriage with Valeria, but he refuses; he is also repeatedly confronted by a vengeful Greek courtesan, Eutibide, whose lustful advances he has rejected. The novel concludes with Valeria and her daughter by Spartacus weeping over the body of the fallen hero. The 1913 Italian film based on this novel, Spartaco, directed by Giovanni Enrico Vidali, changes the gender dynamics, having Spartacus fall in love with Narona, the fictional daughter of Crassus, with whom he is triumphantly united at the end of the film, after Crassus frees him and makes him the commander-in-chief of the Roman army! In the 1952 Italian film Spartaco, directed by Riccardo Freda, Spartacus is seduced by Crassus' evil daughter Sabina and almost betrays his followers, though at the end he dies on the battlefield in the arms of Amitis, his lover and ex-slave from Thrace, who is herself a revolutionary. (Information derived from “Spartacus: Testing the Strength of the Body Politic,” Mary Wyke, Projecting the Past: Ancient Rome, Cinema and History [Routledge, 1997] 34-72)


Group I: Historical Background:

Group II: Roman Government, Politics, and Social Classes:

Group III: Roman Army; Roman Slavery:

October, 1998
Topics and Assignments Page
Barbara F. McManus