Spartacus and the idea of “belonging”

In the movie Spartacus, one major motif that begs further analysis is the idea of “home” and “belonging.” As a slave from the beginning, Spartacus has never had one specific home or family. This same loss of identity is the same for all slaves at the time. The only sense of home as slave could have was the relationships he or she formed with the other slaves. The viewer first senses a connection and a sense of belonging among the slaves when Crassus orders the gladiators to fight to the death. Spartacus is chosen to fight, and ends up almost losing the battle until his opponent turns and tries to murder Crassus instead. By choosing to attack Crassus and his group, the gladiator ultimately choses to die himself rather than kill his comrade. This expression of love and camaraderie, along with the mistreatment of the slaves both male and female, lead Spartacus to revolt.

Once freed from the oppression of slavery, Spartacus and his group of rebels head off on a journey to the coast of Italy so that they may sail away and be free forever. Along the way, word of his bravery and ideals spread throughout Italy. Many slaves escaped and join Spartacus’s new-found “family.” One slave, Crassus’s servant Antoninus, also leaves and joins Spartacus. There, he sings a song that gives insight into the theme of family:

When the blazing sun hangs low in the western sky,

when the wind dies away on the mountain,

when the song of the meadowlark turns still,

when the field locust clicks no more in the field,

and the sea foam sleeps like a maiden at rest,

and twilight touches the shape of the wondering earth,

I turn home.

Through blue shadows and purple woods,

I turn home.

I turn to the place that I was born,

to the mother who bore me and the father who taught me,

long ago, long ago, long ago.

Alone am I now, lost and alone in a far, wide, wondering world.

Yet still when the blazing sun hangs low,

when the wind dies away and the sea foam sleeps,

and twilight touches the wondering earth,

I turn home.

This poem directly relates to the idea of a lost sense of self and the importance of home. The slaves are currently wandering the world headed towards what they hope is their ultimate freedom. Their home is now the people they have come to know and love; the people they were enslaved with and have travelled with all this way. Whenever Spartacus was struggling, both during his enslavement and once freed, he always looked to his love, Varinia, for support. Because the slaves had nothing, and no sense of home, the people around them became a substitute. They were the only thing constant in each other’s lives. This passage from Antoninus clearly depicts their journey to freedom, and explains the sense of “home” that the slaves have come to understand; their home is in each other.

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One response to “Spartacus and the idea of “belonging”

  1. This post goes a good way towards showing the sense of belonging which the slave army had and which was necessary to all of them. It is this same belonging which first made the gladiator rebel instead of kill his own comrade which led to the famous scene in which the entire army rose and declared that they were Spartacus.

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