Spartacus led them against Rome, but their hearts seem to have failed them; and instead of attacking the capital, he passed on again to Lucania.
In the next battle Spartacus was worsted and retreated towards the straits of Messina, intending to cross into Sicily, where he would have been welcomed by fresh hordes of slaves; but the pirates who had agreed to transport his army proved faithless.
Neither in the Social War, nor in the rising of Spartacus, who held out a long time in the Sila (71 B.C.), do the Bruttii play a part as a people.
It was in this lofty rock-girt hollow that the gladiator Spartacus was besieged by the praetor Claudius Pulcher; he escaped by twisting ropes of vine branches and descending through unguarded fissures in the crater-rim.
But Spartacus overthrew both consuls, one after the other, and then pressed towards the Alps.
Crassus endeavoured to shut in the rebels by carrying a ditch and rampart right across the peninsula, but Spartacus forced the lines, and once more Italy lay at his feet.
Spartacus now took up a strong position in the mountainous country of Petelia (near Strongoli in Calabria) and inflicted a severe defeat on the vanguard of the pursuing army.
Spartacus, who had stabbed his horse before the battle, fell sword in hand.
Spartacus was a capable and energetic leader; he did his best to check the excesses of the lawless bands which he commanded, and treated his prisoners with humanity.
Having been sent against Spartacus, he gained a decisive victory, and was honoured with a minor triumph.
Eventually Spartacus and many of his followers were killed and six thousand of his fellow rebelling slaves were crucified, a slow and agonizing form of death.
SPARTACUS, leader in the Slave or Gladiatorial War against Rome (73-7171 B.C.), a Thracian by birth.