Thracians were known to be good horseman, able to tame even wild horses.
“Spartacus suddenly rushed at them and engaged them in battle.
However, for reasons lost to history, Spartacus chose not to do this, instead turning his force around and heading back into Italy.
Why he did this is a mystery.“Many theories have been proposed, but the best explanation was already hinted at in the ancient sources.
Furthermore, a group of escaped slaves were not seen as posing a serious challenge to Roman soldiers.
The Romans despatched a praetor named Gaius Claudius Glaber to form an army to crush the slaves. Glaber’s ad-hoc army didn’t even try to attack Spartacus.
Spartacus continued to ambush and defeat Roman units while freeing slaves in the countryside and gathering supplies. C., Spartacus may have had 40,000 troops, some of which stayed in south Italy with his co-leader Crixus while the remainder advanced towards the Alps under the command of Spartacus. The Roman force under Gellius caught up with Crixus, killing the leader along with many of his rebels.
Back in Rome, the senate grew impatient and sent a large army led by the consuls Lucius Gellius Publicola and Gnaeus Cornelius Lentulus Clodianus. Gellius then proceeded to advance on Spartacus from the south while Lentulus, who was apparently ahead of Spartacus, drove in from the north.
This man, and another person named Publius Valerius, whom they despatched later, “did not command the regular citizen army of legions, but rather whatever forces they could hastily conscript on the spot,” wrote Appian, a writer who also lived in the second century A. Instead, they blocked off the main route up Vesuvius, pitched camp and tried to starve him out.
Spartacus took the initiative, having his newly liberated slaves build rope out of wild vines so they could move down the mountainside to a spot the Roman had neglected to defend. The “slaves were able to surround them and to shock the Romans with a surprise attack.