(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

The parallel between imperialistic technological cultures, Rome and America, is apparent in Spartacus. Resisting oppression and committing oneself to action for others, even self-sacrifice, is diametrically opposed to the self-centered, solipsistic Roman attitudes. Against the Roman slave system, rebellion brings not only unity, but also equality between people, races, and even sexes. Spartacus's gladiators, dispossessed from all corners of the Empire: Thracians, Jews, Gauls, Egyptians, Spaniards, and black Ethiopians, work together equally, women alongside the men.

The promise of redemption and transformation exists not only for groups but also for individuals, illustrating the primacy of individual responsibility, moral revelation through action, and people's capacity for change. Not only the embittered, alienated gladiators but also some Romans are transformed by the example of loving sacrifice and human endurance. The decrepit, fat, corrupt politician Gracchus, recognizing the moral superiority of Spartacus and Varinia and the bankruptcy of his own life and the system he serves, frees Varinia, the rest of his slaves, and taking his own life, liberates himself from a corrupt society which demands total submission from Romans and slaves alike.

Another of Fast's themes is the relationship of present events to the future. The final outcome of the slave rebellion, put down with great cruelty, will not be apparent until the future, as the...

(The entire section is 288 words.)