Spartacus and Sports in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe

By Keith Phillis.

Published by The Sport Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

What effect has the image of Spartacus had on the sporting cultures of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe? Most people have come across his namesake in history books, popular culture, or even as consumer brands. Few people, however, recognize his cultural importance around the world. Spartacus is recognized as a hero, legend, and symbol. He was selected by his fellow gladiators and liberated slaves to lead the rebellion in the third Servile War from 73 to 71 BC against Rome. Historians have presented many skewed accounts of the hero and his legacy, but in the Soviet Union he was seen as a secular hero of the working class who fought against the oppressive empire and liberated the working class. This legacy was represented in many ways in the Soviet Union: internationally, the number of physically fit athletes allowed the Soviet Union to flaunt superiority of the Soviet society; domestically, all citizens participated in sports and experienced camaraderie among groups of peers. Spartacus, being a model of physical and mental superiority, became an important symbol for the struggle against oppressive opponents—domestic and international—to the extent that a Spartacus Sports Society was created. This study investigates the cultural importance of Spartacus to the Soviet culture and, particularly, the effects of this idol on the physical culture in the Soviet Union.

Keywords: Spartacus Sports Society, Spartacus, USSR, Eastern Europe, Symbol

The International Journal of Sport and Society, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp.37-48. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 494.177KB).

Keith Phillis

Student, Political Science Department, Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, Michigan, USA

Being infinitely fascinated with European culture and history, I have spent much of my studies focusing on cultural, political, and linguistic differences in Europe. I spent a year of my studies in France and Germany ameliorating my French and German speaking skills. Likewise, I specialize in comparative politics and European studies. I focus mostly on political differences and their effects on society in each country. I intend to obtain a law degree so that I may open up new opportunities in international business, law, or politics.