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Slave revolt led by Titus Vettius

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Slaves on Roman mosaic
Slaves on Roman mosaic

Slave revolts in ancient Rome were not uncommon. However, a more interesting event is certainly the slave uprising in Campania in 104 BCE, which was started by a Roman citizen and equestrian – a certain Titus Vettius.

Titus Vettius was a young man who fell in love with a slave girl who belonged to a neighbour of his father’s estate. Vettius decided to buy it back, but the price offered by the neighbour was really high – seven Attic talents or about 184 kg of silver. The repayment date was set, but the Roman obviously did not have the right amount. His father wouldn’t help him pay off his debt either.

Vettius made an unexpected decision and with his money bought 500 sets of armaments, which he gave to his slaves, proclaimed himself king, and then killed the neighbour’s messengers who came to collect the payment. As it turned out, his activities were not limited to his estate. At the head of his “soldiers”, he began raiding nearby farms and taking other slaves into his army. In total, he gathered an army of 3,500 warriors.

Rome finally recognized the threat of an uncontrollable collection of slaves and their self-appointed ruler. The praetor Lucius Licinius Lucullus was sent to crush the rebellion, at the head of his army besieged the fortifications of Vettius on the hill. As it turns out, the defence of the slaves was effective, but finally one of Vettius’ associates – a certain Apollonius – betrayed him and, fearing for his life, started cooperation with the Romans. Upon learning of this, Vettius committed suicide, and the camp was captured.

  • Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca historica, 36

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