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Personal details
Born Gaul
Died 72 BC
Nationality Gallic
Military service
Allegiance Spartacus' Rebel Army
Commands Rebel Army
Battles/wars Third Servile War

Crixus was a Gallic gladiator and military leader in the Third Servile War between Roman Republic and Slave rebels. Born in Gaul,[citation needed] he was enslaved by the Romans under unknown circumstances and trained as a gladiator in Capua.[1] His name means "one with curly hair" in Gaulish.[citation needed]


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, Gauls Castus and 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.

Whatever the reason for the split, Crixus' contingent came under attack from a Roman army under the command of the Roman consul Lucius Gellius Publicola near Mount Garganus in 72 BC. 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. Three hundred Romans were sacrificed in Crixus' honor.

In popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ McLynn, Frank. Heroes & Villains: Inside the minds of the greatest warriors in history. Retrieved 12 December 2012. 
  2. ^ Starz. "Manu Bennett in Spartacus: Blood and Sand". Archived from the original on July 17, 2011. Retrieved January 31, 2010. 

Ancient sources[edit]

Modern sources[edit]

  • 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