24. In the six hundred and seventy-ninth year of the City and during the consulship of Lucullus and Cassius, seventy-four gladiators escaped from the training school of Cnaeus Lentulus at Capua. Under the leadership of Crixus and Oenomaus, who were Gauls, and of Spartacus, a Thracian, the fugitives occupied Mount Vesuvius. From there they later sallied forth and captured the camp of the praetor Clodius, who had previously surrounded and besieged them. After forcing Clodius to flee, the fugitives concentrated their entire attention on plundering. Marching by way of Consentia and Metapontum, they collected huge forces in a short time. Crixus had an army of ten thousand according to report, and Spartacus had three times that number. Oenomaus had previously been killed in an earlier battle.
While the fugitives were throwing everything into confusion by massacres, conflagrations, thefts, and attacks upon women, they gave a gladiatorial exhibition at the funeral of a captured woman who had taken her own life in grief over her outraged honor. They formed a band of gladiators out of the four hundred captives. Indeed, those who formerly had been participants in the spectacle were now to be the spectators, but as the trainers of gladiators rather than as the commanders of troops. The consuls Gellius and Lentulus were dispatched with an army against these fugitives. Gellius overcame Crixus in battle, though the latter fought with great bravery; Lentulus, however, was defeated and put to flight by Spartacus. Later the consuls joined forces, but to no avail, and after suffering a severe defeat both took to flight. Then this same Spartacus killed the proconsul C. Cassius after defeating him in battle.
The City now became almost as terrified as she had been when Hannibal was raging about her gates. The Senate at once dispatched Crassus with the legions of the consuls and with fresh reinforcements. Crassus quickly engaged the fugitives in battle, slew six thousand of them, but captured only nine hundred. Before advancing against Spartacus in person, who was laying out his camp at the head of the Silarus River,Crassus defeated the Gallic and German auxiliaries of Spartacus and slaughtered thirty thousand of them together with their leaders. Finally he encountered Spartacus. After drawing up his battle line, he killed most of the forces of the fugitives as well as Spartacus himself. Sixty thousand, according to report, were slain and six thousand captured, while three thousand Roman citizens were recovered. The remaining gladiators, who had escaped from this battle and were wandering at large, were gradually killed off by many generals who constantly pursued them.
But I myself repeat again and again: do the times really need at this point to be made the subject of any comparison? Who, I ask, does not shudder to hear, I do not say of such wars, but of such titles of wars—foreign, servile, wars with allies, civil, and fugitive wars? Moreover, these wars do not follow one another like the stormy waves of the sea, however great their force may be, but these waves of strife, stirred up by various causes, pretexts, forms, and evils arising on all sides and heaped together into a mass, dash upon one another. I now take up where I left off and cease my discussion of that notorious Slave War.
The thunders of the Jugurthine War from Africa had not yet been stilled when from the northwest the lightning bolts of the Cimbrian War were hurled. In addition to the vast and horrible torrents of blood raining down from those Cimbrian clouds, Italy in her misery was now sending forth the clouds of the Social War destined to merge into a great storm of evils. Furthermore, after the endless and repeated storms of the Italian War, one could not travel in safety throughout Italy. All the inhabitants except the people of hostile cities, most dangerous whirlpools I might call them, were reeling about as a result of an insecure and hazardous peace. Rome was at that time in the throes of giving birth to the Marian and Cinnan conflagration, while another, the Mithridatic, was threatening from a different direction, the east and north. This Mithridatic War started, to be sure, from troubles of an earlier period, but flared up again in later times. The funeral pyre of the Sullan disaster was set ablaze by the Marian torch; from that pyre of the Sullan and Civil War, which was so destructive, flames were scattered throughout most of the parts of the earth and many conflagrations spread from this one blaze. Lepidus and Scipio in Italy, Brutus in Gaul, Domitius, the son-in-law of Cinna, in Africa, Carbo in Cossura and Sicily, Perperna in Liguria, and later Sertorius in Spain—he was the most dangerous of them all in that same Spain—stirred up civil wars, or whatever name these wars should be called, causing many other wars to arise, all from that one war. Apart from those three vast wars which at that time were called "foreign", that is, the Pamphylian, the Macedonian, and the Dalmatian, there was also that great Mithridatic War, which, though by far the longest, the most dangerous, and most formidable of all, long kept its true character concealed. After this, but before the end of the Sertorian War in Spain and while Sertorius was still living, that war against the fugitive slaves and, in order to express myself more accurately, that war against the gladiators, sent forth its horrors that were not to be seen only by a few but were to be feared everywhere. Although it was called a war against fugitives, one cannot judge its importance by the name; in that war frequently one consul and occasionally both consuls who had joined forces in vain, were defeated and a great number of nobles slain, but so far as the fugitives themselves were concerned, they lost more than one hundred thousand. Hence we must bear in mind that Italy has reason to find consolation when she compares the sufferings incurred by the present foreign war with the recollection of past wars begun by herself and directed against herself and of wars that tore to pieces her very being in a manner incomparably more cruel.