Starz's short-lived historical drama Spartacus is probably best known for its thrilling action and epic cinematics, which blend stylistic visuals and dramatic narratives with gritty realism. This captivating tale showcases one of the most iconic rebels in history, as he gets dragged into captivity as a gladiator only to fight his way up through the ranks to eventual glory. Yet, this show also thrives with its inspirational, amusing, and otherwise memorable quotes from many of its premiere characters. Whether they be foul, hilarious, or thought-provoking, there's no shortage of quotable bits of dialogue over the show's 4 season run.
Let's sift through some of this marvelous writing as we highlight some of the best of the best.
10 "Speak To Me Such Again, I'll Accrue Your ****ing Head." (Batiatus)
When it comes lovable villains - or at least underhanded antiheroes - it's tough to beat the foul-mouthed, witty, and ambitious Lanista, Quintus Batiatus (John Hannah). Heck, aside from the late, great Andy Whitfield, this short-fused man and his zingers are largely the reason season 1 is so memorable.
While there's an abundance of Batiatus gems to pick from, this quote is particularly great in its cleverness and its great portrayal of this spiteful, stubborn, and easily-angered character. As the house of Batiatus is going through financial hardships early in season 1, a debt-collector hounds the Lanista warning him that his points still accrue if he continues carrying his debt. As he walks off, Batiatus mutters this amusing line to himself.
9 "The Shadow Of Rome Is Vast, And You, Thracian, Will Die Under It." (Glaber)
While Batiatus can be quite the malevolent character, he at least has a sense of humor to break some of the ice. When it comes to the solemn Roman commander, Legatus Glaber, he's always about business, and never messes around. With this ominous warning to Spartacus - just as he knocks him out and ships him off to Capua - he solidifies his role as the chief villain to be feared. It not only emphasizes the power-hungry nature of Spartacus' former commander, it also conveys the extreme power and influence of this rising soon-to-be empire; consuming all in its wake.
Spartacus, unfortunately, is about to find this out the hard way as he's taken into captivity to fight as a gladiator.
8 "I'm For Wine And The Embrace Of Questionable Women." (Gannicus)
Fans tended to be cautiously optimistic going into a six-episode prequel season that would highlight the happenings at the Ludus of Batiatus pre-Spartacus. Thankfully, the charm and hilarious wit of the womanizing Gannicus (Dustin Clare) went a long way in adding life and entertainment to this underrated prequel. Like Batiatus, there's quite a palette of delightful lines to choose from when it comes to this lighthearted gladiator.
Yet, this one has to be one of his best, given its ability to reveal so much about his character in so few words. This funny line really says just about all you need to know about the man - at least until he decides to join forces with Spartacus and company in their rebellion.
7 "A Gladiator Does Not Fear Death. He Embraces It. Caresses It..." (Oenomaus)
The tough, stern, and unbreakable Doctore, Oenomaus (Peter Mensah), certainly has a way with words, many of which can seem to sting as much as the crack of his whip as he spits out his commands and instructions to his gladiators. Yet, this definitely shines through as one of his most enduring quotes. It's a great look into the unwavering, fearless mindset of a gladiator (or at least the mindset they're supposed to keep), and of Doctore's fighting spirit.
And if the first part of this line isn't epic enough, Oenomaus follows this up with a brief, yet clever, allegory involving, how shall we say, "phallic imagery" to drive his point home.
6 "I've Had My Fill Of Games, Let Us Leave This Arena Forever." (Spartacus)
This episode, entitled "Libertus," is one of the biggest highlights and "edge of your seat" showcases of this action-packed second season. It contains a particularly powerful quote from Spartacus amidst an already impactful episode; with its sense of finality in our protagonist's desire to turn the page and literally burn his past to the ground.
Spartacus, Mira, and their band of rebels engage in a chaotic fight as they ignite and destroy the arena - taking down hundreds of spectators with it. This enthralling scene feels like a final exorcism of Spartacus' bloody past, and it's summed up magnificently with this brief, but emotional line.
5 "May The Gods Grant Us Miracle, They ****ing Owe Us Something." (Batiatus)
You know you're dealing with some tremendous acting and writing when you can actually get your audience to sympathize with a character that essentially exists as a villain - especially to our hero, Spartacus. Yet, at least in the early episodes, we do somewhat feel for Batiatus, as his financial troubles begin to mount and accelerate. This line is spoken as he and his wife, Lucretia, discuss their dwindling fortunes and increasing uncertainty of their future.
Batiatus adds the exclamation point to this impactful scene with this awesome line of dialogue, after gazing at the night sky. It further illustrates his somewhat stubborn and entitled nature, yet it also oddly makes us empathize with him, if only a little.
4 "There Is Always A Choice." (Spartacus)
Spartacus has its share of reoccurring lines, some of which are more memorable than others. Yet, this philosophical statement from our lead protagonist is particularly inspirational and strong. When he speaks it, he reminds both his companions, as well as the viewer, that you are in control of your own destiny.
On top of this, of course, it largely represents who this man is and what he represents. His desire to do what he feels is right and exercise free will, even in the face of adversity or direct defiance, is emblematic of Spartacus, and it ultimately is what spurs him to lead one of the biggest slave rebellions in history.
3 "You Were Always Destined For Great And Unfortunate Things." (Sura)
Another line of dialogue that tends to creep back into the show at various times is this line initially spoken by the wife of Spartacus, Sura. It's a rather eerily bit of foreshadowing, being the last thing she speaks to her husband before he sets off to aid the Romans in battling the Getae tribe. For it is this initial war that gets the wheels in motion for Spartacus' betrayal of Glaber, his captivity as a gladiator, and eventual chaotic rebellion.
It's an ominous, prophetic line delivered by the character who serves as Spartacus' main inspiration to rise in the ranks and keep fighting onward.
2 "A Man Must Accept His Fate, Or Be Destroyed By It." (Spartacus)
While Spartacus is adamant in his desire to seize control of his own destiny and achieve liberation, this is a line that reveals another side to the gladiator, which conveys a certain wisdom in another way. Much like Sura's famous warning to the man, this bit of self-awareness acts as some foreshadowing, since he only really achieves a semblance of peace and glory when he follows this advice.
It's a way to convey the man's acceptance and drive as a gladiator during the first season, cutting his past ties as a Thracian. Though it's also representative of Spartacus' later role as a loyal, strong commander of his assembled army of rebels. Even in the face of certain doom, the warrior presses on and refuses to back down, accepting his fate as a leader.
1 "I Am Spartacus!"
This is one of those timeless iconic quotes that even manages to extend beyond the Starz show and seep into the culture and history of humankind itself. We get to hear a preview of this emphatic line for the first time in season 1 when Spartacus has just earned a victory in the arena and shouts it to the roaring crowd.
But of course, the true impact of this dialogue comes when the man and his army of rebels have been cornered in the finale. It's yelled as both a means of defiance and as a way to illustrate the symbolic, metaphoric nature the name "Spartacus" has taken on.