Who was Quintus Lentulus Batiatus in History?

01/07/2021

     Quintus Lentulus Batiatus was one of the most hated (and loved) characters in the Spartacus series, but what few people know is that Lentulus Batiatus really existed, learn more about this icon in history.


Batiatus in Spartacus series:

     Quintus Lentulus Batiatus is a Lanista, trainer and gladiator trader. He is the head of his family's ludus in Capua, and is Dominus to Spartacus and most of the other gladiators that appear throughout the series. Batiatus is the son of Titus Lentulus Batiatus and husband of Lucretia. He is the main protagonist of Gods of the Arena and the main antagonist of Blood and Sand.

     His life is consumed by the pursuit of money, power and political status. This psychotic obsession with wealth shows little sign of conscience or mercy. He enjoys flaunting his fortunes and victories in the face of fellow Lanista and hated competitor (and once close friend and confidant) Marcus Decius Solonius, no matter how small his successes. His frequent plots and schemes for gaining social status seem to have no limits, including the kidnapping and murder of magistrate Tito Calavius ​​​​and setting it up in Solonius. Quintus' cunning and penchant for double trade reveals itself in many forms; for example, he promised Spartacus the return of his wife Sura in exchange for obedience, which he received. Sura was eventually returned to Spartacus, but killed on Quintus' orders.

     Born and raised in his father's ludus, Quintus' earliest memories are of sitting on his father's knees, watching the games. Though trained to follow in the footsteps of his forefathers, Quintus expresses political ambitions from the beginning of his life, ambitions neither shared nor approved of by his master. More discord ensues when Quintus, in adulthood, marries Lucretia, a woman Titus vehemently disapproves of and considers beneath his rank. During this time, he also had a close friendship with Marcus Decius Solonius, another aspiring lanista.

Batiatus in History:

    Lentulus Batiatus, owner and trainer of gladiators (Lanista) in the 1st century BC Italian peninsula One of his gladiators was the celebrated Spartacus (or by the name of Spartacus as we already know it). It was in his gladiatorial school that Spartacus' rebellion against the Roman Republic, later known as the Third Servile War, began. In 73 BC, Batiatus owned a gladiator training school in Capua, Campania (Italy), which mainly gathered Gallic and Thracian slaves.

     According to Plutarch, in his "Life of Crassus", the mistreatment inflicted by Batiato led about two hundred slaves to revolt and an attempt to flee the school. Seventy-five of them succeeded, among them Spartacus, who was to become the main leader of the Third Servile War (73 BC - 71 BC), the biggest slave revolt in Roman Italy.

A little more about Batiatus:

     Historically, its name may have been Gnaeus Cornelius Lentulus Batiatus, although there is some uncertainty as to whether this was actually its name. Some prominent modern historians, such as Barry Strauss, believe that the name "Batiatus" is a corrupt form of the nickname "Vatia". However, all major media presentations of the Spartacus War used the name "Batiatus". It is also unclear whether he was actually killed during the slave revolt in his ludus.

     Aside from his name (which is still disputed) and the fact that he was a lanista in Capua, almost nothing is known about the historic Batiatus. However, by Plutarch's sources, he was said to have been an incredible cruel dominus, perhaps leading to the reason for the historic Spartacus revolt in 73 BC.