'Spartacus': What Makes Spartacus an Alpha?

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The Starz "Spartacus" series is based on a real-life gladiator who liberated fellow slaves in the Roman Empire. "Spartacus" documents the character's life from capture to revolt, and likely onward in upcoming seasons. Of the many gladiators and slaves in Rome, what makes Spartacus the leader of the revolt?

Here are some true alpha qualities that help Spartacus achieve his goals.


Like the cunning Greek hero Odysseus (from Homer's "The Odyssey"), Spartacus (Andy Whitfield) relies on his intelligence. He can think on his feet but also has the ability to plan and execute long-term strategies. In the modern world, this would likely make Spartacus a champion in business. Also, like Odysseus, Spartacus sometimes broadens his own perspective to solve a problem rather than thinking that his opponents will change.

Nothing to Lose

In the first episode of the series, Spartacus is taken from his wife. Later on, Batiatus (John Hannah) fulfills his promise of reuniting Spartacus with his wife, but ensures that the woman is wounded beyond saving upon her arrival. While this might seem like a smart move on Batiatus' part, it reduced his leverage with the gladiator. With his family gone, Spartacus develops into a dominant and precise risk taker as a result of having nothing to lose.

Self-Preservation Above All

Batiatus and some of the other gladiators comment that Spartacus might make a decent Roman if he willingly embraced Roman principles. While he seems to despise the culture that enslaves him, Spartacus engenders the noble and practical concept of self-preservation. He quickly understands that a loss in the arena usually means death, and so domination becomes a necessity. This quality earns Spartacus respect and certain liberties (such as better food, audiences with Batiatus and parties). And despite being warned, Batiatus comes to minimally trust Spartacus.


Spartacus is lethal and dominant due to his intellect, but his patience makes him a true planner. Spartacus knows how to listen to others and observe his opponents, waiting for the right moment to make a move.

Physical Stature

While Spartacus isn't the largest gladiator, he practices hard and bides his time while waiting for the right opportunity to assert himself. Spartacus remains physically capable of being a real competitor, and becomes the champion of Capua when he utilizes his other alpha qualities in the arena.

Physically and mentally, Spartacus also has a gift for understanding himself. He knows his limitations and strengths, and honestly confronts his own weaknesses and constantly strives to better himself.

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