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The Red Serpent
Season 1
Number Episode 01
Date Aired January 22, 2010
Writer Steven S. DeKnight
Director Rick Jacobson
Previous N/A
Next Sacramentum Gladiatorum

"The Red Serpent" is the pilot episode of Spartacus: Blood and Sand. It is the first episode of the Spartacus series overall.

Plot Outline

A Thracian warrior, enlisted by the Romans to fight, has his destiny sealed by an act of rebellious violence. As punishment he faces death by being forced to fight in the gladiatorial arena.


The series opens with a man chained in the bowels of the Amphitheater of Capua awaiting his turn to be

Spartacus chained up.

executed. He then flashes back to his village in Thrace where the villagers, he among them, are discussing the appearance of a Roman soldier, Claudius Glaber, who has come to ask for their help in battle against Mithridates. Despite Rome and Thrace's shaky relations in the past, the villagers agree to march with the

The Thracian places The purple ribbon on Sura's leg.

Romans in return for help fighting the local barbarians that plague their village. This treaty was sparked by the Thracian.

He returns home to his wife, Sura. They speak of a happy, peaceful future together, without the attacks from the barbarians. The next morning, Sura reveals that the gods spoke to her in her dreams, showing her husband kneeling before a red serpent. She asks him not to leave, saying that if he does, he will be led to great and unfortunate things. Still, he decides to leave despite her warnings and ties a purple ribbon around her leg, so that she can keep his memory close in the time he is away. Sura tells him to "kill them all"; he agrees: "for you".

The Thracian squadron in battle against the Getae.

The Thracian men march to battle against the advancing barbarians. The war quickly develops into a predictible formula: the Thracians always take he front lines and endure the brunt of the enemy's attacks, while the Romans arrive late, chasing off the stragglers. One evening, there is dissatisfaction in the Thracian camp, and talk of leaving due to the Romans' lack of commitment to their cause. The Thracian reminds them that they gave their word to help, and this sparks a fight with Drenis, a fellow soldier. The two are caught by the Romans and sent to scout for enemies as punishment.

Glaber returns to his tent to find his wife, Ilithyia, waiting for him. She sneaked into the camp, without her father's permission, to bring her husband a gift of wine and companionship in bed. She mentions that her father, Senator Albinius, will be displeased if Glaber returns unfruitful in battle.

The next morning, the Thracians discover that the Getae are launching a flank attack around the Roman encampment to assault the Thracian villages directly. To their dismay, Glaber announces intent to march east towards Mithridates whilst the villages in the west are still under threat from the barbarians, breaking his word.

The Thracian discusses the barbarians' threat.

Desperate to win his own battles, Glaber orders them into formation, but the Thracians refuse. Glaber attempts to force them to his will but the Thracians resist, and Glaber is thrown from his horse and knocked unconscious whilst his following of soldiers are slaughtered. The Thracians rush towards their home villages.

Back near a village, Sura is picking fruit when a group of barbarians close in on her. She manages to fight one off her with a rock to the head and defend herself with his sword before the remainder closes in on her. Her husband comes to the rescue, and together they fight off the rest of them. After a moment's reunion, the two see their village in the distance, the buildings burning and screams resounding from it. They decide to flee into the wilderness.

Husband and wife set up camp for the night and discuss what to do next. The man regrets ever leaving and Sura is visibly shaken by the fate of their village, but they decide to flee south together, away from everything.

The next morning, they awake finding Claudius Glaber standing over them. The Thracian reaches for his sword, but soldiers quickly overpower him, grab Sura and whisk her away, screaming. The soldiers beat him, on Glaber's order, who blames the man for his lack of good fortune- half of Glaber's army has been slaughtered, and he has been recalled to Rome in disgrace. Glaber informs the Thracian that Sura is destined for slavery for his actions before knocking him out and sending him via ship to Capua with the other captured Thracians (including Drenis and Byzo).

Solonius presents his men to Albinius.

Glaber, once again in Capua with Ilithyia, discusses the forthcoming games and a way to reclaim standing with her father, the Senator Albinius. In a presentation of the gladiators who will be performing in the games (in which Batiatus and Solonius both present their best), Glaber brings forth the Thracian prisoners and announces that they are to be executed in the arena, in hopes that the entertainment their deaths will provide might make up for him returning to Rome without a victory. The Thracian is next seen in the arena, watching Drenis battle against Arkadios. Though Drenis puts up a spirited fight, he is eventually slain by Arkadios, leaving the remaining Thracian prisoner to be executed. He is then handed a gladius and forced onto the floor of the arena to face the formidable gladiator. To his shock, three more gladiators from the house of Solonius enter the arena prepared to help execute him. The

The Thracian kills Arkadios in a fury of rage.

crowd is against the uneven odds, but the fight commences nevertheless. The gladiators initially have the advantage over the Thracian and he suffers multiple wounds. As he lies on the sands, he sees a red serpent on Arkadios' shield and is reminded of Sura's dream. He remembers her words, "kill them all." This spurs him to attack and he immediately kills Arkadios, finishing off the others one by one. Having won the crowd's support with his surprising victory, the crowd chants for him to live. Glaber cannot allow him to live out of his own pride and wishes him dead, but he also craves the acceptance of Albinius, who must honor the crowd's wishes. Batiatus offers a solution and buys the Thracian for his ludus, not expecting him to survive the training.

"Spartacus was he called".

Albinius asks Glaber what the man's name is, so he can announce their decision to the crowd, but Glaber never cared to ask it. Batiatus observes that the way he fights reminds him of the Thracian King of old. "Spartacus he was called," says Batiatus. Albinius quickly announces the Thracian to the crowd, granting him life and naming him Spartacus. The crowd of the arena immediately starts chanting Spartacus’s new name, as he stares covered in blood looking to Glaber.

Characters in Order of Appearance

  1. Spartacus
  2. Drenis
  3. Arkadios
  4. Claudius Glaber
  5. Sura
  6. Byzo
  7. Ilithyia
  8. Albinius
  9. Batiatus
  10. Crixus
  11. Barca
  12. Solonius
  13. Lucretia
  14. Thracian Elder
  15. Glaber's Tribune

Historical Context

In the episode, the Getae are portrayed as savages, while the Maedi are shown as a noble people. Historically however, the Getae were considered one of the most noble of all Thracian tribes, and the Maedi were seen as barbarians. The hypothesis that Spartacus was of the Maedi tribe was first raised by K. Ziegler in 1955.


  • Spartacus' real name is never revealed. Whenever he is asked for his real name, he is interrupted.
  • When Batiatus describes Spartacus as fighting like "the Thracian king of old", he may have been referring to Spartokos I, whom founded the Thracian-descended Spartocid Dynasty which ruled the Cimmerian Bosporus Kingdom (located in the Crimea region of the Ukraine) from 438-108 BCE. The Bosporan Kingdom was a culturally Greek nation composed of ethnic elements as the Greeks, Thracians and Scythian peoples.
  • This episode takes place 5 years after the conclusion of Gods of the Arena.


Sura: "The gods came to me last night, in my sleep."
Spartacus: "What did they show you?"
Sura: "My husband on his knees, bowing before a great red serpent. The life draining from his veins."
Spartacus: "What meaning did you take from it?"
Sura: "A warning. If you go to war, you are destined for great and unfortunate things."

Sura: "Kill them all."
Spartacus: "For you."

Spartacus: "We'll continue this discussion later."
Drenis: "What if we're dead?"
Spartacus: "Then my boot will find your ass in the afterlife."

Spartacus: (referring to Glaber): "Pompous, arrogant, Roman boy-lover."
Sura: "You did what you could. You came back... for me, knowing it could mean your life."
Spartacus: "There is no life without you."

Batiatus: "...Solonius secures half a dozen of his ill-trained simians. That man has fingers in all the proper assholes."

Albinius (referring to Spartacus): "What name does the man carry?"
Glaber: "I never cared to ask."
Batiatus: "The way he fights... like the legend of the Thracian king of old... Spartacus, he was called."


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Chronologically: The Bitter End
Released: N/A
Sacramentum Gladiatorum

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