In AD 71, six thousand men were crucified along the Appian way from Rome. Each died a long and gruesome death, for the crime of fighting for freedom from a brutal and repressive regime which had them enslaved and fighting one another for sport. They were Persians, Egyptians, Galatians, Gauls, Germans, united under the banner of freedom and justice from an empire larger than they could ever face. They died for their leader, Spartacus, a man who dared lead them in the face of impossible odds for an ideal we still hold today.
Spartacus may have been amongst those along the Appian way, or he may still lie on the side of the mountain where he took his last stand. A forgotten fate for a man never forgotten for his nobility and pride, despite being only a lowly slave facing giants of the greatest empire the west has ever known.
But his fate, and that of his six thousand, has been forgotten by us, and we should be ashamed.
The man who we claim hangs upon the crosses on our necks, in our holy places and upon our bed stands does not deserve his position upon the brutal torture device. That from which he was lifted by his father after a bare six hours upon the cross he lifted to the mount. The six thousand suffered until the sun set upon them, and until it rose again. Their skin blistered under the Roman sun, their lungs burned as their shoulders were torn from their sockets. Their limbs cried out in agony as the nails carved through their flesh for hour upon hour. Some were lucky, as passing soldiers hacked at their legs to break their bones and bring their suffering to an end, as their arms could no longed pull them upon the slivers of iron through their palms. They suffocated, unable to breathe, small gasps their only respite as first their lungs, and then their heart gave out. Some lasted days, their strength bearing them aloft so their groans could be heard by those who passed, unaiding. They had no families to lift them down and take them to their burials, only passing merchants who would permit their children to cast rocks at their barely moving carcasses. Eventually they would fall from the wooden beams, as their decaying joints snapped and rusted nails broke free of their holdings.
This was the fate of the six thousand.
And so I call upon you all, to reclaim the crucifix for Spartacus. The man who stood up to a giant and reclaimed his freedom despite the odds. The man who’s followers did not deny knowledge of him, did not walk away from his death, but demanded they be placed in his place, and be judged as one. The man whose fight against tyranny and slavery knew no end before he was cut down before those who so followed him. The fight we still fight today across the world, and yet without a true figure to hold against our chests and know as our ideal.
Reclaim the crucifix, remove the noble crown of thorns and know there was no respite for the six thousand, but not all must die as they died. That freedom is still possible, and can still be clutched. Freedom from tyranny, earthly or Godly.
To Spartacus, and the six thousand.
[ Originally printed in RCCrucifix.com. ]