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Barry StraussPlutarch offers more detail. But Plutarch lived two centuries later and, as Mr. Stothard writes, he was a Greek "with a passion to interpret the not so distant past." To take the Romans down a peg, Plutarch magnified the achievements of men like Spartacus. (Plutarch called him "rather Greek," though Spartacus was from Thrace, north of Greece.) Another ancient writer, Publius Annius Florus, may have been a hack, says Mr. Stothard, but he was "a good hack." His account of the slave rebellion highlights how humiliating a successful slave revolt was to the Romans. Appian of Alexandria, another important Spartacus chronicler, knew what it was like to be pursued by rebels, since he had to run for his life during the Jewish Revolt in Egypt in the early second century.
Ancient history often comes to us in this form—as a kind of mosaic that we must piece together for ourselves, as Mr. Stothard has done so well here. And it still arouses modern passions. Mr. Stothard's engaging book reminds us that, for all the secrets the story of Spartacus refuses to give up, it still leads us back to the heart of things.
— The Wall Street Journal