I've recently started watching the Spartacus (just finished Blood and Sand and Gods of the Arena, currently watching Vengeance) and the events described seemed rather exaggerated.

While it doesn't bother me one bit and I enjoy the series because it is what it is, it conflicts a little with what I had already known about the romans.

For starters, even if the gladiators were slaved, I lived under the impression that the most famous ones, the champions, were treated much better, something that doesn't seem to be the case with Spartacus and Crixus.

The amount of sex seems also too much. The roman orgies are very famous, but the characters in the series have no shame towards the slaves and indulge themselves in all sort of strange practices.

And last but not least, it seemed fairly easy to kill someone and get away with it back then, as Batiatus demonstrated not just once.

Of course, considering the nature of the show, things are bound to be inflated, to make the series more entertaining and it's definitely working but still... just how much of the show is true and how much is fiction? I would to point out that my question it's not about the historical figure Spartacus and his story, but the roman society and his habits as it was presented in the show.

  • 3
    Don’t forget that it airs on the cable network STARZ, so it is allowed to have nudity, swearing, violence, drugs, etc. Like most shows on STARZ (and HBO and Showtime), because it is allowed to have them, it goes overboard and packs them in to the point of totally overshadowing the actual story and/or being unrealistic. (Boardwalk Empire was surprisingly decent, and I like Game of Thrones and Dexter because they have characters and stories that are good and keep the DLSV gimmicks to minimum-The Ricky Gervaise Show is great, but doesn’t count here.)
    – Synetech
    Commented Jun 17, 2012 at 22:08
  • the common language was latin, which most people learned much like modern english.
    – user4501
    Commented Apr 2, 2013 at 5:49
  • 1
    couple misconceptions- in the show people watching matches give a thumbs down when they want the loser to die- in real Rome they would've given a thumbs up. Also acquiring and training gladiators was fairly expensive, so actual fights to the death were a lot less common than the show depicted. Commented Sep 3, 2020 at 18:11

1 Answer 1


I think the Spartans were way more brutal than it was depicted in the show. Because, the majority of the things depicted are true - the characters personalities and all of the battles and stuff, as I can believe, but it's not historically accurate as far as i know.

Because it is focused on the lives of merchants and slaves, and low level magistrates and praetors in a gladiator school in Capua, rather than the lives of consuls as you get with most depictions of Roman life.

  • The arena combat is highly unrealistic and stylized for the sake of entertainment rather than as an accurate depiction of the way gladiators truly fought.

  • The most historically inaccurate area is probably the language and dialogue. The slaves were taken from all over the Roman empire and would have had little to no education in most cases. They would have no common language and what little communication they were capable of wouldn't have contained the verbose level of word usage the show is so fond of.

In other words the show clearly tries to maintain a level of historical accuracy while not losing sight of the fact that it's entertainment and not a documentary.

  • 2
    You guys do realize that the first article (from something awful.com) is comedic in nature and makes fun of the historical inaccuracies of the show, right? Commented Jun 18, 2012 at 16:23
  • 1
    yes, but that is useful. By making fun of the historical inaccuracies it actually reveals more about the accuracy per total
    – BBog
    Commented Jun 22, 2012 at 8:55
  • 2
    Minor nit: Spartans have nothing to do with Spartacus. Spartans were Greeks; Spartacus was an Illyrian (I believe) who ticked off the Romans enough to be sentenced to enslavement and eventual death in the arena. "Spartacus" -- from what I've read -- is roughly translated as "spear user", and may have been his arena fighting style (or role) rather than his actual name. Commented Feb 19, 2019 at 19:24

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .