Throughout history, there have been many key figures that will inspire others for decades and even centuries to come. The ancient Romans set many precedents for our modern-day entertainment with their gladiatorial games and the Coliseum, while the ancient Greeks set precedents for the ancient Romans with the Olympic games. One of the most influential figures in the time of the ancient Romans was Spartacus, a man who stood up for himself and others like him while he was enslaved and forced to fight in the gladiatorial games. For Karl Marx, one of, if not the most influential socialist thinker to emerge in the 19th century, Spartacus was 'the most splendid fellow that all ancient history has to show; great general, noble character, real representative of the ancient proletariat' (Shaw 2001). For Grassic Gibbon, a lifelong follower of Marx and a successful historian of early civilizations, Spartacus allowed him to focus on his fiercely held beliefs in the nature of society, the freedom of the individual, and the inevitable collapse of 'civilization'.
Originally published in 1951 and then republished in 2000, Howard Fast's novel, Spartacus, was a popular fictionalization of the Slave Revolt led by Spartacus. The novel later inspired the 1960 movie, Spartacus, starring Kirk Douglas and Lawrence Oliver. In 73 B.C., in the heart of Italy, at the very center of Rome's Mediterranean empire, Spartacus led a breakout from the prison like conditions in which gladiators like him were trained for the murderous and popular entertainment staged for avid spectators. He ignited one of the most violent episodes of slave resistance known in the history of the Roman Empire - indeed, in the world annals of slavery (Shaw, 2001).
Gladiators, the famous actors of Rome, were not so very different from those of today,