Over the last few months, I have been watching the American television series Spartacus produced between 2010 and 2013. The series, inspired by the story of the Thracian slave-turned-gladiator Spartacus who famously led a rebellion against the Roman Empire between 73 and 71 BCE, ran for four seasons: Blood and Sand (13 episodes), Gods of the Arena (6 episodes), Vengeance (10 episodes), and War of the Damned (10 episodes). If you enjoy movies such as the original Gladiator film (2000) starring Russell Crowe, 300 (2006) and Pompeii (2014), you will enjoy the Spartacus series. It’s more of the same only more violent and definitely sexier. Great for a Saturday night in.
After completing my mammoth viewing session, I wrote a few comments for the amusement of one of my sons, Mark, who had recommended the series to me. Here are the comments.
Well now, I’ve finally watched the last episode of Spartacus: War of the Damned and almost everyone went off to the afterlife as expected. Poor old Crixus (Gallic gladiator), he of the gruff voice and ex-Champion of Capua (southern Italian city), lost his head, literally, to the sword of Gaius Julius Caesar (Roman nobleman destined for greatness). The gladiator Gannicus (another Gaul), he of the warm smile, simple mind and master of the dual swords fighting style, became an alpha tester for the new line in crucifixion later to be used against Jesus Christ (prophet and, some say, miracle worker). Naevia, the female ex-slave and warrior who was obviously the inspiration for Neytiri, the blue-skinned female Na’vi warrior in Avatar, was dispatched with much blood and perfect white teeth by Gaius Julius Caesar who was, of course, to survive the epic battle in order to meet his end at the hand of Marcus Junius Brutus some years later. Naevia’s departure was a pity really because she was responsible for decapitating the scheming Ashur (ex-gladiator turned henchman for Quintus Lentulus Batiatus, the buyer, owner and master of the gladiators). I cheered when she did this! Ashur’s demise was a long time coming but very satisfying when it finally happened.
That noble but cruel Marcus Licinius Crassus (mega-rich Roman and sworn enemy of Spartacus) also survived only to be upstaged by Pompey (played by an actor covered in white flour, I’m sure) in order to stay true to history. Agron (German gladiator) and his male soft-eyed shy-glances Syrian lover Nasir (slave) both survived even though Agron had also sampled the new crucifixion technique much beloved by the Romans for terminating the lives of those captured in conflict. The delectable nicely-breasted lovely-smile doe-eyed Kore, slave to and lover of Marcus Licinius Crassus and hater and dispatcher of his prone-to-rape son Tiberius Licinius Crassus was also crucified but she didn’t look too uncomfortable on the cross. Maybe her crucifix was made of softer wood or the nails were made of tightly bound reeds to soften their piercing?
And finally, what of poor old Thracian gladiator Spartacus himself, he of the noble ideals, inspiring speeches, another erstwhile Champion of Capua, dispatcher of lanista Quintus Lentulus Batiatus, Gaius Claudius Glaber (Roman Army general), many inferior fellow gladiators, and countless members of the noble Roman legions—what happened to him? There he was about to send his mortal enemy Marcus Licinius Crassus to the afterlife when—thud, thud, thud. Three dastardly Roman soldiers crept up from behind, from behind!, and impaled him with their spears causing fatal wounds. Agron managed to wrest the dying Spartacus away from the final death blow of Marcus Licinius Crassus and Spartacus died in Agron’s arms saying that his greatest victory was to depart this life as a free man. Well, we could argue about that sentiment but at least Agron’s final kiss on the forehead was not of the homosexual kind which is more than can be said about the earlier homosexual love scenes between Agron and his Syrian lover, Nasir. I looked away when these scenes showed. Pillow biting is not for me.
And so ends the story of Spartacus and with it the endless streams of slo-mo blood flowing from decapitated heads, severed limbs and deep body wounds. It also ends all the sensual sex between firm bodied women and even more firmly-bodied men and, in the case of Agron and Nasir, between firm bodied men and men. I shall miss the many sensual copulation scenes in the brothels (not all simulated, I’m sure); the Romanised speech phrases—“Gratitude”, “Apologies”, “I will have words with you”, and so on; the fight scenes in the arena which left me wondering “how the hell did they make that scene?” And, I shall miss all the close-ups of bloodied faces and heated olive-oil smeared bodies after battle. The makeup artists and special-effects team deserve Oscars for the scenes they created.
RIP Spartacus. It was fun. Next up: the Vikings television series containing perilous sea journeys, brave and dastardly deeds, much pillaging and plundering, and, I’ve no doubt, furtive and forthright couplings between hardened sea-faring warriors and blue-eyed blonde-haired maidens to secure a future intake of the Vikings.