Did you assemble an army of slaves? Did you make the Romans tremble in their togas? No you didn’t and no, you didn’t. I did. I am Spartacus and you’re not.
Here’s where the problem began: The Romans rounded up my routed army and demanded they surrender their leader or they’d administer a remedy for living. As I prepared to give myself up, my peers rose, one by one, and performed their best Spartacus impersonation. I was deeply moved by their affirmation of solidarity. Although when big-boned, I-sure-have-let-my-gym-membership-lapse Obesitus chimed in, I secretly winced.
So now somebody has to concoct a collective noun for Spartacuses. A ditto of Spartacuses?
Good news was, it was an inspirational bonding moment and exemplary illustration of collective accountability. Bad news: we were all condemned to a lingering death nailed to a cross. But let’s dissect what actually happened. Basically, on that day in 71 BC, we invented identity theft.
So now I’m stuck in a dungeon with Team Crucifixion. We’re anticipating a future as a unique tourist feature along the Appian Way. It’s like a warped perversion of Where’s Waldo down here: Spot Spartacus™.
The Governor of the province offered an amnesty to a single slave. We put our names into a gourd and the dungeon-master pulled one out. “Spartacus” he announced, and my spirits soared. The gods had smiled upon us. Once free, I could organise an attack on the garrison and rescue my ill-fated partisans. But the dungeon master continued: “Oh, very droll. I get it: you’re all called Spartacus,” before screwing up the parchment and tossing it aside.
To be frank, my well-meaning comrades have ruined everything. In fact, you be Frank, I’ll be Spartacus. Then everybody’s happy.
Flirting shamelessly with a sassy slave girl, I awaited the right moment to drop my name so I could relish her realisation that she was dallying with the big S. But when I did introduce myself, a passing slave echoed: “I’m Spartacus.” Then his mates took up the call and suddenly we had a fresh Spartacus-fest. Then—get this—the girl insisted she was Spartacus. Where does that leave me? If I’d taken the flirting to the next level, I’d essentially be canoodling with myself, which, if I’m not mistaken, is common-or-garden masturbation.
When my wife discovered what I’d been up to, recriminations ensued. “Spartacus, how could you? I don’t know who you are anymore.” Under the circumstances, how could I reply?
All this is causing irreparable harm to my psychosocial health, resulting in serious identity crisis. I’m suffering imposter syndrome, beginning to doubt my achievements as a military strategist and emancipator. Even my loyal pet, Mr Ratty, has taken to biting me.
I search for signs of myself in the other “Spartacuses”: that ageing slave feigning strength and vitality; that youth cruelly fat-shaming Obesitus; that man slyly eyeing off Antoninus, who strikingly resembles a young, sultry Tony Curtis. Hubba hubba.
I corner them, demanding answers to questions that insinuate themselves in the gloomiest of nights. “You! Spartacus!” I demand. “Are you truly worthy of your wife’s loyalty and affection? You! Does your penis have suitable girth? You! In a future re-enactment of your life will you be played by Kirk Douglas or Danny DeVito?”
To top it off, there’s a rapper down here calling himself Spartacus-I-Am. A punk band formed called The Spartacuses. That’s right, Joey, Johnny, Dee-Dee and Marky Spartacus.
I passed a group of slaves playing Celebrity Heads. Guess which name everybody had plastered on their brows?
Even my Mom’s not immune. She came to visit, moving amongst us, crying: “Where is my beloved scion, Spartacus?” Of course, the usual chorus began, with my name reverberating from the mildewed walls. I sat resignedly, expecting her to locate me, but she picked a taller, more handsome guy to bestow her baklava on. When I objected, she said: “I bet this Spartacus would prefer to spend more time with his Mom, rather than galivanting around the provinces empowering his oppressed people.” Her “son” just simpered and chowed down on flaky pastry.
A complete debacle, or my name’s not Spartacus. Which it is, by the way.
Still, it’s not all bad. I’m up there in the three most popular baby names in Thrace this year. And I’ve come to realise the only way to preserve my sense of self is to abandon my moniker. Let every other Tom, Dick and Harry be Spartacus. I’m changing my appellation to the more enigmatic Freedom Symbol (A.K.A. The Slave Formerly Known As Spartacus).