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He was a Gaul (his name means "one with curly hair" in Gaulish), and had been a slave for several years before the revolt. Crixus had fought for the Allobroges against the Romans and had been captured. Like his companions, Crixus had trained as a gladiator in Capua. In several early engagements, his company of Celtic gladiators changed the tide of battle by attacking weak points exposed by the slave army.
Initially the slave army proved very successful, defeating the forces the Roman Senate sent to put down the insurrection; however, Crixus separated from Spartacus towards the end of the year. Spartacus wanted to return to the slaves' homelands in Gaul and the Balkans, but Crixus is said to have set his heart on plunder, and stayed on in southern Italy. Some sources say that the break off from Spartacus may have also been a military strategy conducted by both Crixus and Spartacus to throw off the Romans as a decoy. This would allow Spartacus an escape to the far north with the main body of the army as Roman armies were starting to return home from overseas campaigns to the west and the east; this would be a dangerous position for Spartacus. If the decoy worked, Crixus would then meet up with Spartacus by another route; but there is no real data that proves that this was so.
In the spring of 72 BC one of the two Roman consuls sent to quash the rebellion, Lucius Gellius Publicola, caught up with Crixus and his forces, composed of Celts and Germanic tribesmen, in the region of Apulia. In the ensuing battle at Mount Garganus, Crixus used his Germanic infantry to soften up the Romans before committing his elite Celtic gladiators; however his Germanic fighters were routed and Crixus was forced to fight a losing defensive action. Crixus was killed and his 30,000 strong army defeated.
In the manner of Roman aristocrats, Spartacus honored the memory of the ex-gladiator Crixus with funeral games at which 300 Roman prisoners-of-war were forced to fight to the death like gladiators.
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