Spartacus and the pirates

Why did Spartacus and his army decide not to escape when they had the chance?

photo of Kirk Douglas as Spartacus.
This is Spartacus...

Around 72 BC, the slave army of Spartacus, after defeating a number of Roman armies,
arrived at the northern end of Italy.

This had been their plan. They now only needed to cross the Alps and return to their homelands.

Why didn't this happen?

Here are some personal thoughts...

Spartacus and his army of escaped slaves had become too hot to escape to new lives.
Rome would put bounties on all of them. Throughout the known world, there would be price tags on the escaped slaves.

In particular, there would be a huge bounty on the man known as Spartacus.

He would never be allowed to go to some country, buy a nice farm, find a wife and settle down and raise children.
He would always be looking over his shoulder. There would always be men looking for the reward.
These men would be asking questions about new people (possibly escaped slaves) who had shown up, with valuables.

Of course, many of the slaves had been born in Italy. They had no former home to go to.

Some historians have offered the idea that it was simply a matter of
the slave army looking up at the Alps and realizing that it was
not going to be easy to cross them. In fact, it actually looks impossible.

It is very possible that at this time, Spartacus and the other leaders realized that they needed to do some new thinking.
They had large amounts of treasure that they had looted from wealthy Roman estates.
They could offer this to the Cilician pirates for safe passage to the Island of Sicily.
It was such a short distance that many people could be transported relatively quickly.

On Sicily, the slave army could start new lives.
They would be able, possibly , to protect themselves from Roman soldiers trying to land on the shores.

Upon reaching the southern tip of Italy, Spartacus met with the leaders of the pirates.
A large amount of treasure was exchanged.
But the pirates betrayed Spartacus.

Why did the Cilician pirates betray spartacus?

I believe that the Roman Senate sent the word to the pirates
that if they helped the escape of Spartacus and the slave army, that their 'truce' would cease to exist.

The pirates had provided slaves to the wealthy land owning Roman Senators. Rome had never tried to destroy the pirates.

The pirates decided to keep the status quo. They kept the treasure and forgot about Spartacus and his army.

An interesting thing... Julius Caesar, in 75 BC, was captured and held for ransom by these same Cilician pirates.

Rex Harrison as Julius Caesar in the film Cleopatra.

Rex Harrison as Julius Caesar, before he went to Egypt and met Cleopatra.

The pirates infested the Mediterranean sea. They demanded a ransom for Caesar.
Whether it is true or not, the story is that Caesar laughed at their low ransom price.
The ransom was paid and Caesar was released.
He immediately took command of some ships, set after the pirates and captured them.
Later, he had them executed.

Pompey, just a number of years after the defeat of Spartacus, effectively ended the pirates being able to act with impunity.
However, piracy continued to exist, and slaves were still delivered to the auction blocks of Rome.

This is the same Pompey who would be murdered by the brother of Cleopatra, in 48 BC.

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