The geography of rebellion: strategy and supply in the two 'Sicilian Slave Wars'

P. Morton

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The two Sicilian ‘Slave Wars’ of the second century BC have rarely been studied in terms of their strategic complexities. Previous efforts to do so have started from the assumption that each conflict was a priori the same or similar. In addition, both wars have been placed into a separate category of analysis from other wars, leading to analyses that have characterised the wars together as disorganized guerrilla campaigns or examples of ancient marronage. In this paper I argue, by contrast, that we must consider the two conflicts as separate entities, and that we must approach their study as we would any other wars. By studying the rebel strategies of each war in terms of their relationships with the geography of Sicily and the logistics of warfare I contend that the two wars were fought in contrasting manners, with the method used in the first being highly strategic, and in the second confused and ineffectual.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-38
Number of pages18
JournalBulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2014


  • Roman history
  • Roman slavery
  • Hellenistic Sicily
  • Slave revolts


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