• Historian Roel Konijnendijk assesses the historical inaccuracies in a battle scene from
  • Alterations were made for dramatic effect, like Romans using spears instead of swords and the way Spartacus commands his army.
  • Some creative liberties could also be taken because of gaps in the main character’s real-world history.


Historian Roel Konijnendijk has brutally assessed a battle scene from the Spartacus TV series, revealing why it’s not very historically accurate. The 2010 show follows its titular character as he leads his armies against the Roman Empire, focusing on how he becomes the historical figure he’s now remembered as. The series has plenty of exciting battle scenes throughout its run, all of which are meant to reflect the battles its main hero and his armies participated in.

In a video from Invicta, Konijnendijk revealed how a battle scene revealed the historical inaccuracy of Spartacus when it comes to the fights the series portrayed.

The clip, which starts at 24:50, sees the historian discuss how the battle is set up, explaining why the weapons the Romans are using aren’t accurate, much like Spartacus’ battle strategy as he charges the approaching army. Check out what Konijnendijk had to say about the battle below:

It’s nice to see the trumpets that you would use to try and give commands on the battlefield. Usually this trumpet sound carries much further than vocal commands, so that’s something that ancient armies would use, from Greeks to Romans. But on the other hand, the Romans appear to be spearmen all of a sudden? Which, obviously, historically, they are not. They famously fight with swords and javelins.

Anyway, this is a big battle, huge armies operating in the field, and then one of those armies – suddenly, at the command of one of its leading figures – stops in place. It’s likely that the people around him would be able to stop on command. Apparently this is something that reenactors have tried to do. Can you charge and then stop? Apparently, people are quite responsive and people don’t actually bash into each other when they do that. So it’s quite possible to, not so much turn on a dime, but at least to stop when the person in front of you suddenly stops. So that shouldn’t be too much of an issue. The bigger problem is that this commander is only able to speak to the people who are directly by his side and behind him. People can respond to what they see the men in front of them – the men and women in front of them – are doing. And so, in an event like this, what would very likely happen is that the people around this commander apparently know where their trench is, and they’ll be able to stop on the edge of it. But people further on the line, they’re going to walk into it. Because they haven’t realized they’re supposed to stop just yet. Unless there are other officers along the line who also know exactly where it is and will tell those men when to stop.

Spartacus…it’s very hard to judge it on historical accuracy when it’s clearly not trying to be historical. I mean, nothing we’ve seen here has anything to do with anything historical, except for the fact that Spartacus eventually gathered an army around him that was eventually defeated by a Roman army. I mean, that is about the extent of it, and that is what you’re seeing I suppose. But it does very little to actually depict anything that we could seriously call a reconstruction of ancient warfare. It’s nothing to do with what we know of how a Roman army functions, certainly nothing to do with what little we know about Spartacus’ army. So I would give that one a 2 out of 10.

Why Spartacus Lacks Historical Accuracy

Spartacus War of the Damned

One key reason why Spartacus lacks historical accuracy in some areas is because the history of its main figure is obscured. Despite being a recognizable face within Roman history, there are gaps in his life that allow for more creative liberties when translating it from history to the small screen. This is why the show twists its Ancient Rome setting to benefit a story that, historically speaking, has multiple fabrications in order to make its presentation more understandable and dramatic.

However, Konijnendijk’s analysis also reveals some details were altered that didn’t need to be, such as the Roman armies using spears instead of swords. This indicates some of the alterations made to the series from history were done simply to add to the action of the show. Having a shot of the Romans marching forward with spears may not be historically accurate, but it adds tension to the scene by having their weapons visible at all times. Even so, more historical accuracy may have strengthened the series.


The Sad Reason Spartacus Had To Recast Its Lead Role After One Season

Andy Whitfield played the lead role of Spartacus in the Starz gladiator drama for its first season, but here’s why Liam McIntyre took his place.

It’s possible the historical inaccuracies of the series can be remedied in the future, with Starz planning a Spartacus revival taking place after the definitive ending of the original show. If the new series can more readily embrace the history of its time period, it could end up being even better than its parent series. For now, though, it seems the historical inaccuracies of the original show are there for dramatic effect, an unfortunate judgment that, luckily, doesn’t fully take away from the excitement of the series.

All episodes of
can be watched via Starz.

Source: Invicta/YouTube


Spartacus is a Starz original series that ran for three seasons between 2010 and 2013. The TV show focused on the historical figure Spartacus, who was originally played by Andy Whitfield before his untimely passing in 2011. Liam McIntyre took over the role for the next two seasons, Spartacus: Vengeance and Spartacus: War of the Damned.

nick tarabay , Liam McIntyre , Peter Mensah , Viva Bianca , Lucy Lawless , Andy Whitfield , Manu Bennett
Release Date
January 25, 2013
Jed Whedon , Brent Fletcher , Steven S. DeKnight , todd helbing , Seamus Kevin Fahey , aaron helbing , Misha Green
Steven S. DeKnight
Steven S. DeKnight

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