|Allegiance||Spartacus' Rebel Army|
|Battles/wars||Third Servile War|
Crixus was a Gallic gladiator and military leader in the Third Servile War between the Roman Republic and rebel slaves. Born in Gaul,[circular reference] he was enslaved by the Romans under unknown circumstances and trained as a gladiator in Capua. His name means "one with curly hair" in Gaulish.
In 73 BC, Crixus was part of what started as a small slave revolt in the gladiatorial training school of Lentulus Batiatus in Capua, in which about 70 gladiators escaped. The escaped slaves defeated a small force sent to recapture them, then made camp on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius. Word of the escaped gladiators' revolt spread, and other escaped slaves started to join their ranks. At this time, the band of former slaves chose Crixus—with the Thracian Spartacus, and the Gaul Oenomaus—as one of their leaders. Later in the rebellion, another Gaul, Castus, and Celtic former Gladiator Gannicus also served as generals under Spartacus.
The movement, in the course of what would come to be known as the Third Servile War, witnessed numerous military successes for the escaped slaves. They routed the militia forces the Roman Senate sent to put down the insurrection by rappelling down the cliffs of Mount Vesuvius and attacking the Roman camp from behind. With these early successes, thousands of fellow slaves swarmed to their ranks, until their numbers swelled to perhaps as many as 150,000.
For reasons that are unclear, Crixus and about 30,000 followers appear to have separated from Spartacus and the main body of escaped slaves toward the end of 73 BC. Contemporary historians have theorized two possible reasons for the split. One theory proposes that Crixus and his followers were intent on plundering the Roman countryside and, perhaps, marching on Rome, while Spartacus and his followers wanted to cross the Alps to reach Gaul and freedom. A second theory is that the split had strategic value and was planned by Spartacus and Crixus as a way to further their strategic goals. However, Spartacus's actions raise more questions about their intentions. Both accounts by Appian and Plutarch state that after Spartacus defeated Lentulus, he turned back and attacked an army behind him. In one account, it was Gellius' army, in the other, it was an unnamed Roman force. If he wanted to escape Italy to the North, why would he turn back for unnecessary bloodshed? This fact seems to tip history in favor of the first theory.
Whatever the reason for the split, Crixus' contingent encountered a Roman army under the command of the Roman consul Lucius Gellius Publicola near Mount Gargano in 72 BC. The two consular legions under the command of Publicola were deployed defensively along the crest of a hill, while the slaves led by Crixus made three unsuccessful assaults up a steep slope. Crixus, who is said to have fought bravely in a losing effort, was killed in the conflict.
Spartacus, on hearing of the defeat of Crixus and his forces, held mock gladiatorial games, in which he forced captured Roman soldiers to fight to the death. Either 300 or 400 Romans were sacrificed in Crixus' honor.
In popular culture
- Crixus was portrayed by John Ireland in the 1960 film Spartacus.
- Crixus appears as a character in Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of Spartacus, played by ex-Marillion lead singer, Fish.
- Crixus is portrayed by Paul Kynman in the 2004 TV movie Spartacus.
- Crixus was played by Manu Bennett in the Starz television series Spartacus: Blood and Sand, the prequel Spartacus: Gods of the Arena and sequels Spartacus: Vengeance and Spartacus: War of the Damned. Contrasting the 1960 film, in which Crixus and Spartacus quickly become close friends, the Starz series initially portrays them as intense rivals with a near-hatred of one another. It is not until the rebellion that the two become respected friends.
- In the expandable turn-based miniature wargaming system Heroscape, Crixus is a unique gladiator hero, who does not die at Roman hands but is summoned to the world of Valhalla to follow the Valkyrie General Einar.
- Alaric I
- Battle of Baduhenna Wood
- Crius—Crixus's namesake
- Gaius Julius Civilis
- John of Gothia
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...the Gaulish name Crixus, cognate with Latin Crispus 'curly-headed one'...
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- Fields, Nic (21 July 2009). Spartacus and the Slave War 73-71BC. pp. 55 & 60–61. ISBN 978-1-84603-353-7.
- Strauss (2009, UK edition) "Spartacus added a bitter twist by reversing roles: he made the slaves spectators and the Romans gladiators. The occasion was Cnixus's funeral games. ... Spartacus called up 300 (or 400 according to another source) Roman prisoners and had them fight to the death around a pyre - a symbol, at least, of Crixus, assuming his body had not been recovered."
- Futrell, Alison (2010). Blood in the Arena: The Spectacle of Roman Power. University of Texas Press. p. 183. ISBN 9780292792401.
After the defeat of Crixus by a consular army, Spartacus sacrificed 300 Roman prisoners to the spirit of his deceased colleague. Here a distinction in treatment is clearly drawn between the 300 Romans whom he sacrificed and the totality of the remaining prisoner group, whom he simply destroyed.
- Starz. "Manu Bennett in Spartacus: Blood and Sand". Archived from the original on July 17, 2011. Retrieved January 31, 2010.
- Appian, Civil Wars 1.116
- Livy, Perochiae 96
- Florus, Epitome 2.8.20 
- Sallust, Fragmenta Historiarum 3
- Smith, William (1870). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology Vol 1 p. 896
- Bradley, Keith. Slavery and Rebellion in the Roman World. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1989. ISBN 0-253-21169-7
- Strauss, Barry (2009). The Spartacus War. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-1-4165-3205-7. (UK edition: Hachette UK, 2009 ISBN 0297857665, 9780297857662)