|Spartacus is an American television series that premiered on Starz on January 22, 2010. The series was inspired by the historical figure of Spartacus, a Thracian gladiator who from 73 to 71 BC led a major slave uprising against the Roman Republic. Executive producers Steven S. DeKnight and Robert Tapert focused on structuring the events of Spartacus’ obscure early life leading up to the beginning of historical records. The show has been rated TV-MA for graphic violence, strong sexual content, and coarse language.
The first season was titled Spartacus: Blood and Sand. Although the show was initially renewed for a second season, production was delayed because lead actor Andy Whitfield was diagnosed with early-stage non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Because of the delay, Starz produced a six-episode prequel mini-series entitled Spartacus: Gods of the Arena. Pre-production of season 2 began when Whitfield was cancer-free, though his cancer recurred, so Starz replaced Whitfield (who later died on September 11, 2011) with actor Liam McIntyre for the role of Spartacus at the start of season two entitled Spartacus: Vengeance. On June 4, 2012, Starz announced that the upcoming third season, titled War of the Damned, will be the last season of Spartacus.
The mini-series features the history of the House of Batiatus and the city of Capua before the arrival of Spartacus. The main story opens not long after Quintus Lentulus Batiatus becomes lanista, manager of the House’s slaves and gladiators, when he takes over his father’s ludus.
Batiatus is quickly revealed as having grand ambitions, beginning with stepping out of his father’s shadow. As the story progresses, Batiatus continues to seek greatness for the House under his leadership, as well as recognition for his own name. By his side stands his devoted wife, Lucretia, who is willing to help her husband achieve his goals regardless of the cost. Batiatus soon places all of his fortunes on one man whom he believes will bring fame and glory to the House of Batiatus, his best gladiator, the Celt Gannicus. Gannicus is a skilled warrior almost without equal, who wields his dual swords in the arena with great prowess. However, Batiatus’ opponents would not sit idly and allow his ascent to greatness without challenge.
Purchased as an undisciplined and disheveled recruit in the first episode, Crixus the Gaul initially endures mockery and threats of death, before eventually rising to become a gladiator of skill and fame second only to Gannicus. As Batiatus fends off repeated attempts by his professional rival Tullius to obtain Gannicus, his relationships with his father Titus and friend Solonius begin to suffer the strain of Quintus’ relentless ambition. Former champion gladiator Oenomaus reluctantly retires from combat to become Doctore, while Syrian recruits Ashur and Dagan become fierce enemies as Ashur tries to prove himself worthy of being a gladiator. Veteran gladiators Barca and Gannicus accept the rising star of Crixus but fear that their own careers will suffer, as the machinations of Batiatus and Lucretia to court Capua’s elite end in tragedy for several members of the household. Against all of this, the city’s splendid new arena nears completion and with it the opening games that will make men into gods. When the arena opens, the match between Solonius’ and Batiatus’ gladiators compete with each other. Batiatus’s gladiators prevail in the contest. Gannicus again proves himself to be the champion of Capua and the god of the arena and by virtue of his win against Solonius’ gladiators, becomes the champion of Capua and gains his freedom.