Spartacus

Spartacus (1960)

9 corrected entries

Corrected entry: Crassus, when talking to the man he makes the head of the Roman Garrison, says that the reason he is doing this is to 'checkmate' his senate opponent.'Checkmate' is a chess term and as such would not have been used by a Roman in the 1st Century BC as the game wasn't invented until at least the 6th Century AD in India.

Correction: As is standard with historically-set films, the language and terminology used has been updated to be understandable to a present-day audience. This is a standard movie convention and is not considered a mistake.

Tailkinker

Corrected entry: Lentilus Bataiatus is talking to Gracchus after having being flogged. He is having his wounds treated and the scene is very jumpy onscreen.

Correction: This 'mistake' is not visible in any version of the film I have seen, including my own DVD copy. Perhaps you have seen a badly made print of the film?

Corrected entry: If Crassus wanted Spartacus alive after the battle, why didn't he just get him to give himself up by having Varinia and her child go among the surviving prisoners.beats nailing them all up.

Correction: Character Choice. Not a mistake.

A Demon

Corrected entry: In the scene where Gracchus is giving money and travel permits to Batiatus and Varinia, he mentions that one of his innumerable cousins is the Governor of Aquitania. Aquitania would not become of a province of the Roman Empire for more than 40 years following the time of Spartacus' revolt.

Correction: The key word is 'innumerable'. Gracchus' "cousin" is not a Roman citizen, and the title 'Governor' was a misnomer - he was more correctly a warlord or provincial dictator. Aquitania held very close links with the Roman Empire for centuries before it was annexed, and intermarriage and cross-migration was very common.

Corrected entry: In the scene when Spartacus is detailing on a map how he intends to invade Rome, he is reading the cities on the map of Rome. In the scene immediately prior to that, we learned he cannot read. How did he learn so quickly ?

Correction: It should possible for an illiterate person to memorize a map by its contents. The city names will have been pointed out by one of his aides (or another freed slave) who could read, and all he had to do is to memorize the locations.

Corrected entry: If you look at the legions of Roman soldiers at just about any point in the film, they're wearing wristwatches and trainers.

Correction: There were no such thing as 'trainers' in 1960, when the film was made. The Roman soldiers are all correctly attired. None of them are wearing inappropriate footwear and though their decorative metal and cloth wrist protectors might look like watches in some shots, that is not what they are.

Corrected entry: In the scene at the gladiatorial school Crassus's protege is introduced as Marcus Publius Glabrus. Later in the Senate, he's called Publius Marcus Glabrus.

Correction: Patronymic names were sometimes used in this way.

Corrected entry: At the end of the film, Spartacus is crucified along with all of his surviving men. In reality, Spartacus was killed during the final battle against the Romans.

Correction: The film is not intended to be a historical documentary - most of it bears little resemblence to the known facts. In fact the real Spartacus disappeared during the final battle in Calabria. Nobody knows what happened to him. Realising that that would make a pretty dull ending to the film, the scriptwriters fictionalised his death (and much of his life, too).

Corrected entry: This is more of an omission rather than a mistake. One of the reasons why Spartacus and his army was defeated was the internal strife between Spartacus and his lieutenant, Crixus. According to Greek historians, Appius and Plutarch, Spartacus wanted his army to leave the Italian peninsula and go to Gaul so the army can be disbanded. After disbanding, Spartacus wanted the slaves to go home to their countries of origin. However, Crixus wanted to stay in Italy and keep on pillaging. The Roman generals used this internal strife to their advantage and defeated Spartacus' army. The movie makes no mention of this very historically significant internal strife.

Correction: The film never pretended to be a historical documentary. In fact the story of the real Spartacus is completely different to the film, which is an epic drama, and a largely fictional one at that.

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Mistakes

The weaponry of the Romans and their use is wrong (as they are in all Hollywood movies playing in the Ancient Mediterranean that I know): Instead of one spear, each legionary would carry two weighted javelins, called Pila (singular: Pilum), which had a long narrow iron head. The purpose of these were to throw them at the enemy before melee; if they did not kill their targets, the pila would get stuck in their shields. The head shaft would bend, making the pila useless for 'return' to their original owners, and with the added weight of the javelin, the enemies' shields were rendered useless as well. Following this, the Romans attacked with short swords (the Gladii; singular Gladius).

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Trivia

Marcus Publius Glabrus is accused of neglecting to erect moats and stockades for his camp - a fatal mistake no Roman commander would have normally committed. The standard procedure was to build a camp with these defense measures at any stop, even if no enemy contact was expected. In order to forestall lack of wood for the stockade, each legionary carried two stockade poles with him.

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