The Commonwealth of Slaves

The Partial Historians

After the kerfuffles of 420 BCE, it’s time for a brand new year or two! In this episode we consider 419 and 418 BCE. These two years are packed with exciting moments as we get to learn about an uprising from below – we’re siding with the slaves!

We recorded in a new location for this episode. So if you hear a little bit of crowd noise in the background that’s all part of the atmosphere of taping out and about.

Episode 140 – The Commonwealth of Slaves

The Slaves are Revolting!

It happens every so often, but in this year there’s a few twists! Whose side are the gods on? Is that the smell of smoke? We consider the representation of enslaved people in the ancient written literary sources that provide us with their annalistic narratives…

As events unfold, we take a moment to explore the nature of bodily punishment and particularly crucifixion in ancient Rome. Where did it come from? When did it come into practice? We consider the details.

Still from the film “Spartacus” (1960) showing the crucifixion of the rebels by Rome. We touch on Spartacus in our consideration of the practice of crucifixion. Note, the fate of the historical Spartacus is not known.
Source: No Name Movie Blog

Trouble in the Ranks

It comes as no surprise that the Romans might be facing trouble from their neighbours, but the years 419-418 BCE hold not just trouble without but disagreements between the military tribunes with consular power. How will Rome wrangle their own leaders into line? And will they be able to do it in time to win the day on the battlefield? We delve into the details.

Things to Listen Out For

  • The Aequians
  • Considerations of the Italic peoples
  • What did you say about the Capitol?
  • The Spartacan Revolt
  • Blasé Romans
  • The Tusculums
  • The Labicani
  • Coriolanus!

Our Players 419 BCE

Military Tribunes with Consular Power

  • Agrippa Menenius T. f. Agripp. N. Lanatus (Pat), previously consul in 439
  • Publius Lucretius Hosti f. – n. Tricipitinus (Pat)
  • Spurius Nautius Sp. f. Sp. n. Rutilus (Pat)
  • Gaius Servilius Q. f. C. n. Axilla (Pat), thought to be previously consul in 427

Our Players 418 BCE

Military Tribunes with Consular Power

  • Lucius Sergius C. f. C. n. Fidenas (Pat), previously consul in 437, 429; and previously military tribune with consular power in 433, 424
  • Marcus Papirius L. f. -. n. Mugillanus (Pat)
  • Gaius Servilius Q. f. C. n. Axilla (Pat), previously consul in 427, military tribune with consular power in the previous year 419


  • Quintus Servilius P. f. Sp. n. Priscus Fidenas (Pat)

Master of the Horse

  • Gaius Servilius Q. f. C. n. Axilla (Pat) – upgraded from military tribune with consular power!


  • Lucius Papirius L. f. -. n. Mugillanus (Pat). Previously consul in 427 and military tribune with consular power 422.

Our Sources

Sound Credits

Our music was composed by Bettina Joy de Guzman. Sound effects are courtesy of BBC Beta.

A map showing regions south and east of Rome including a possible location for Labicum – just north east of Tusculum!
Other important sites include Tusculum in the Alban Hills to the south-east of Rome.
Image credits to ColdEel and Ahenobarbus. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

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