The Consul Gaius Marius was recruiting for his eventually successful war against the Cimbri in Cisalpine Gaul. He requested support from King Nicomedes III of Bithynia near Roman Asia Province. Additional troops from Rome's Italian Allies were not supplied due to the claim that contracted Roman tax collectors had enslaved Italians unable to pay their debts. Marius decreed that any allied/friendly Italian should be released if they were in Roman slavery.
Around 800 Italian slaves were released from Sicily, frustrating many non-Italians who thought they would be released as well, and many of these abandoned their masters, incorrectly believing themselves to have been freed. A rebellion broke out when they were ordered back to servitude by the Governor. A slave by the name of Salvius was following in the footsteps of Eunus, fighting for his rights and elected leader of this rebellion. He assumed the name Tryphon, from Diodotus Tryphon, a Seleucid ruler.
He amassed an army containing thousands of trained and equipped slaves, including 2,000 cavalry and 20,000 infantry, and was joined by a Cilician named Athenion and his men from the west of Sicily. The Roman consul Manius Aquillius quelled the revolt only after great effort. It was the second of a series of three slave revolts in the Roman Republic, but fueled by the same slave abuse in Sicily and Southern Italy.