Gaius Claudius Glaber
Gaius Claudius Glaber
|Battles||Battle of Mount Vesuvius|
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 the battle of Mount Vesuvius against the forces of Spartacus during the Third Servile War.
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) was destroyed because he was unable to adapt to the gladiators' unorthodox tactics.
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. They then outflanked Glaber's militia, annihilating his forces.
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. 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.
Portrayals in fiction
Glaber appears in Robert Harris's novel Imperium, which chronicles the career of Marcus Tullius Cicero. Harris has Glaber retire from public life "in humiliation" following his failure to defeat Spartacus, but as an old man he returns to politics in the role of foreign praetor.
In screen adaptations of the life of Spartacus, Glaber has been portrayed:
- by John Dall as "Glabrus", a character loosely based on Glaber, in the 1960 film Spartacus
- by Ben Cross as "Titus Glabrus" in the 2004 TV miniseries Spartacus
- by Craig Parker in the 2010 TV series Spartacus: Blood and Sand, and its 2012 sequel Spartacus: Vengeance. In contrast to other versions, Glaber is portrayed as Spartacus' personal enemy who is responsible for making him a slave.
- 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
- Strauss, Barry S. (2009). The Spartacus War (1st Simon & Schuster hardcover ed.). New York: Simon & Schuster. p. 3. ISBN 978-1-4165-3205-7.
- Appian, Civil Wars, 1:116.
- Frontinus, Stratagems, Book I, 5:20–22 and Book VII:6.
- 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".
- Strauss, p. 61.
- Strauss, p. 52.
- Harris, Imperium (2006), p. 331.
Ancient sources mentioning Glaber include:
- Sallust, Histories 3.90-93 Maurenbrecher.
- Livy, Periochae 95
- Plutarch, Crassus 8-9
- Frontinus, Strategemata 1.5.21
- Appian, Civil Wars 1.116
- Florus, Epitome 2.8.4
- 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.