Gaius Claudius Glaber

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Gaius Claudius Glaber was a military commander of the late Roman Republic, holding the offices of legate and military praetor in 73 BC. He was defeated in a battle on Mount Vesuvius against the forces of Spartacus during the Third Servile War.[1]


Further information: Third Servile War
The slopes of Mount Vesuvius as seen from Pompeii.

Glaber was a member of a Roman plebeian family. He probably had very distant familial connections to the Claudian clan.[2]

Glaber, who was one of eight elected praetors in 73 BC, is only mentioned by classical historians in connection with his disastrous military leadership against Spartacus. They note his force of Roman militia (not professional legionaries)[3] was destroyed because he was unable to adapt to the gladiators' unorthodox tactics.[4]

After Glaber besieged the slaves on slopes of Mount Vesuvius, he failed to anticipate what they would do next. Spartacus' forces used rappelling lines made from local vegetation to scale down the cliffs on the other side of the mountain.[4] They then outflanked Glaber's militia, annihilating his forces.[5]

Roman records make no further mention of Glaber after this defeat. It is not known whether he was killed during the battle, or was simply considered too obscure for further mention by classical historians.[6] Classics scholar Barry S. Strauss noted that his obscurity might also have been another sign of how little attention the Roman Senate gave Spartacus in 73 BC.[7]


In screen adaptations of the life of Spartacus, Glaber has been portrayed:



  1. ^ Appian conflates the names of Varinius and Claudius Glaber, writing Varinios Glabros, not Varinius Faber, as in the Ancient Sourcebook translation, cf. Broughton 2.115 n. 1
  2. ^ Strauss, Barry S. (2009). The Spartacus War (1st Simon & Schuster hardcover ed.). New York: Simon & Schuster. p. 3. ISBN 978-1-4165-3205-7. 
  3. ^ Appian, Civil Wars, 1:116.
  4. ^ a b Frontinus, Stratagems, Book I, 5:20–22 and Book VII:6.
  5. ^ Plutarch, Crassus, 9:1–3; Frontinus, Stratagems, Book I, 5:20–22; Appian, Civil Wars, 1:116; Broughton, Magistrates of the Roman Republic, p. 109. Note: Plutarch and Frontinus write of expeditions under the command of "Clodius the praetor" and "Publius Varinus", while Appian writes of "Varinius Glaber" and "Publius Valerius".
  6. ^ Strauss, p. 61.
  7. ^ Strauss, p. 52.


Ancient sources mentioning Glaber include:

Further reading[edit]

  • Broughton, T., Robert S. (1968). Magistrates of the Roman Republic, vol. 2. Cleveland: Case Western University Press. pp. 109,115. 
  • Bradley, Keith (1989). Slavery and Rebellion in the Roman World. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. pp. 93–94. ISBN 0-253-31259-0. 
  • Strauss, Barry S. (2009). The Spartacus War (1st Simon & Schuster hardcover ed.). New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-1-4165-3205-7.