The Third Servile War is probably one of the most famous wars you’ve never heard of. What I mean by that is that everyone knows about Spartacus’ rebellion from the movie Spartacus, but few people know that there really was a Spartacus and he really did start a rebellion that morphed into what the Romans knew as the Third Servile War. In Roman history, it was a monumental event that forced the Romans to reconsider their treatment of slaves and paved the way for later legislation to give slaves some protection (you could be charged for murder if you killed a slave during Claudius’ reign!).
What really struck me when I read The Hunger Games is that the Third Servile War is startlingly similar and is probably at least what partially inspired Suzanne Collins’ depiction of the rebellion of the Districts. First I think we need a little background on the inspiration behind this and then we’ll go more in depth into why there are so many similarities.
The Third Servile War didn’t start out as a war. It started out as a breakout from a gladiator school in Capua that included some two hundred slaves and gladiators. Unsurprisingly, with that many people involved, the plot was discovered and the rebel slaves had to fight their way out of the school. Spartacus was among them and he was naturally looked to as a leader, but what most people forget is another man who was a key player: Crixus. Crixus was a Celt who had also been captured to fight in the gladiator schools of the Roman Republic and he didn’t like his situation any more than Spartacus did. He and Spartacus, even though it may not have started out that way, became the ringleaders of their little revolt. Continue reading