Francis Ambrose Ridley 1962

Spartacus: The Leader of the Roman Slaves

Source: Book published by Frank Maitland, Ashford, Kent, undated, internal evidence suggests that it was published in 1962. Scanned and prepared for the Marxist Internet Archive by Paul Flewers.

In reproducing the text, we are aware of the passages in Chapters VII and VIII, where Ridley wrote:

Without going quite as far as a dictator, the Senate appointed Marcus Licinius Crassus, surnamed Dives (‘the Rich’) from his enormous wealth, a kind of Roman ‘Rothschild’, as praetor, with extraordinary power to supersede even the discredited consuls. Crassus, as the leader of the plutocracy and the richest man in Rome, had more to lose from the victory of the slaves than had anyone else, and had, therefore, every interest in their suppression. It was ‘Rothschild’ versus the revolution...

In such a plutocratic society as was that of the Roman Republic, money was power. And just as his modern antitypes, the Rothschilds, used their vast wealth to acquire political influence at the courts and in the parliaments of modern Europe, so did the ancient Dives use his wealth to buy political power in that highly susceptible organisation of financial corruption and political jobbery, which, in the first century BC, concealed its nefarious activities behind the high-sounding title of ‘the Senate and People of Rome’.

Whilst it is true that the Rothschild banking family did use its great wealth for political purposes, especially during the nineteenth century, when, for example, it provided substantial financial assistance to enable the British government and its Continental allies to defeat France during the Napoleonic Wars, to help Cecil Rhodes establish the British colony of Rhodesia, and to enable Brazil to become independent from Portugal, the Rothschild family has also become the central focus of many lurid and fanciful anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.

To our knowledge, Ridley did not subscribe to such theories: one of his last works refers to ‘the anti-Semitic myth of the Elders of Zion’ (Talking of the Devil, London, 1986). It seems that he was attempting to draw an historical parallel – as this book shows in many places, Ridley was fond of drawing historical parallels – in respect of the ownership of wealth and the exercising of political influence. Moreover, his use of the past tense – that the Rothschild family ‘used their vast wealth’ – suggests that he saw the family’s activities in this field as an historical rather than a present-day factor.


Chapter I: Introduction

Chapter II: The Social System of Antiquity

Chapter III: The Rise of Rome to World Power

Chapter IV: The Slave Wars of the Ancient World

Chapter V: The Origins of the Revolt

Chapter VI: Early Battles

Chapter VII: The Funeral Games of Crixus

Chapter VIII: Crassus and the Revolution

Chapter IX: The Death of Spartacus – And the Appian Way

Chapter X: Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Antiquity

Chapter XI: Spartacus and the Rise of Christianity

Chapter XII: Spartacist Tradition in Revolutionary History

Chapter XIII: Ancient and Modern Revolutions

* * *

The original pamphlet upon which this book is based was published by the Independent Labour Party and was dated 3 March 1944.

Dedicated to the immortal memory of Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Liebknecht and the German Spartacists of 1919.

The War of Spartacus and the Slaves was the most just war in History; perhaps the only just war in History. – Voltaire


Last updated on: 25 February 2020