Aug 03

One of my favorite cable series as a “History Homer” is Spartacus on Starz, the show is not for the prudish as there are hardcore sexual and homosexual scenes, violence, rape, limitless drama, and full frontal nudity of men and women equally. Homophobes stay far away from it as it will scar you beyond measure, but you regular folks out there ought to check it out if you get a chance.

Spartacus: Blood and Sands introduced us to many powerful characters, some honorable, some ruthless and some who were just plain evil. Of all the men and women that we got to know personally, none was more honorable than one Oenomaus the Doctore for the Ludus of Batiatus.

Oenomaus The Gladiator Legend

Oenomaus was a legendary gladiator whose skills were beyond match, so much so that he was destined to win the coveted Rudis (a wooden sword of freedom) which was awarded to only the best of the best as it allowed them to become free men of high status in Roman society. Oenomaus’s glory ended when he was made to fight a giant by the name of Theokoles who cut him down almost killing him but leaving a visible scar across his chest and face.

Wanting to re-earn his honor by a rematch, Oenomaus recovered and helped train his best friend Gannicus (the best Gladiator to wear the mark of house Batiatus) but was denied reentry into the arena due to his master’s love for him. Titus, the patriarch Batiatus was a man who understood the arena and would have gladly allowed Oenomaus to revenge Theokoles in mortal combat, but he left the house to his scheming son Quintus who saw Oenomaus as a mighty warrior who had surpassed the need for risking his life in an arena.

He was that kind of guy, Quintus Batiatus did not want Oenomaus to get hurt anymore, feeling he had more than earned the right to live as a peaceful slave as opposed to fodder for the games. Oenomaus saw it as a slight to his honor but his obedience to Titus (who was more friend than master to him)  made him accept the position of Doctore (trainer of gladiators) rather than rebel against his master’s wishes.

Oenomaus The Husband (warning spoilers ahead):

One of the rewards for his position as Doctore and trusted friend of Titus, was in being allowed to marry. Oenomaus chose the beautiful Melitta as his wife and remained loyal to her even when she betrayed their vows and fell in love with his best friend Gannicus (poor girl – it’s complicated). When his wife died by poison, Oenomaus shut down for days consumed with sorrow and once recovered, prayed for her nightly and looked at no other women for the remainder of his time in the house.

Oenomaus The Teacher

If there’s one thing that Oenomaus was good at it was fighting, the man was a wraith with the dual gladius. When he was grounded and removed from competition, he taught men who would continue his honor by raising the house of Batiatus to extreme prominence. Of all his students the mightiest was arguably The Immortal Gannicus, whose skills earned him the Rudis which he gladly accepted to leave the house and the guilt consuming him over his best friend’s wife. There was also Crixus the Champion of Capua, who Oenomaus molded from a barbarian Gaul into a legendary gladiator.

Of course the most famous of the men taught by Oenomaus was the namesake of the show – Spartacus; a rebellious, angry, blood thirsty Thracian who was his polar opposite as Oenomaus chose to follow without question and Spartacus questioned everything. Still a man who could produce this much talent in arms is nothing short of amazing and when you watch the show, he is easily the most liked of the entire cast.

Oenomaus is a Reel Man of Cinema as he encompasses the true spirit of a soldier. He was an unmatched master at his craft, a teacher that made a struggling house realize glory, and a man of honor in every aspect of the word. Many will criticize Oenomaus as being too loyal, having to see treachery laid out in front of him in black and white before switching gears, but people who criticize will probably find the aspects of duty and honor to be foreign disciplines. It is warriors like Oenomaus who achieve martial valor, sure he may be boring on paper, but his devotion to duty made him a solid ally and a frightening enemy.

We salute Oenomaus, played by the underrated Peter Mensah. If you haven’t seen Spartacus: Blood and Sands and Spartacus: Gods of The Arena, I urge you to fix that as soon as possible.

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  • Great post on my fav character on the series. I wonder how they will feature him in the new season. He always was able to show the real complex depths of a good man

  • spartacus

    Nothing against this actor as he does a fine job but the real Oenomaus from history was a white man from Gaul. I do not understand why the media tries to rewrite history to be more black. That would be like making a Martin Luther King movie and have Brad Pit play King. Ridicules…

    • Umass_hisorian

      Well said. I teach history and am always concerned when history is changed for political correctness or expediency. Thousands now believe he was an African and not a Gaul. Peter Mensah is not a bad actor, but it is shameful to distort history.

      • Of all the inaccuracies in this very liberal take on Spartacus, the race of Oenomaus is what bothers you guys? I find that very interesting and it leads me to wonder how you feel about the depiction of the Persians in 300 and other fantastical takes on history.

      • Jess

        With all do respect portraying Med looking people as Persians isn’t innaccurate and is not comparable to an African being portrayed as a Gaul. Many people in the Middle East are Caucasian. Don’t confuse the term white with Caucasian, white was a term invented by the new world associated with immigrants from Europe. Caucasian on the other hand emcompasses more than just people in Europe. Fact is if someone portrayed a Latin European or a darker Brit like Gerard Butler as a Persian it would be less of an insult than portraying an African as a Gaul, a people who are not even close to being of the same stock. An entirely different phenotypical race from either Europeans or people in the Middle East.

      • Noone mentioned the “Med looking people” as Persians, my issue was that they were shown as dark people, some being black, and more specifically were depicted as monsters. When 300 came out all of the racists posing as historians had zilch to say about the portrayal of king Xerxes or his warriors as they fought the flawless white Spartans but on this show which showed Rome as a melting pot you all come out in droves.

        No matter how you try to spin your opinion on race as being an accuracy argument, the fact that you all choose to only show up when a person of color is involved makes it into a personal issue with race versus an argument to keep history historical. Want to be taken seriously? Argue FOR a non-white person who is made white in movies/shows sometime just like you’re here to argue for your beloved white Oenameus.

  • spartacus

    The was a good series and all the cast did a great job. However, you do not need to be a homophobe to be grossed out by two men having sex or kissing. It is just plain gross to normal people. So just get use to closing your eyes as needed throughout the series and going eeewww….and you will enjoy it.

  • Umass_hisorian

    Well, Greg, I can’t say I was all too fond of the Persian portrayal/betrayal either. Don’t even get me started on the travesty that was “Braveheart”.

  • Megatron

    He was married before he even became doctore and he didn’t discover of her betrayal until after her death….according to the series anyway.

  • Sparta

    Just because he was a Gaul does not mean he wasnt black. i tend to believe the real ” Spartacus” was a black man.

    • Jess

      Gauls were not black though. Neither were Thracians which is what Spartacus was. As a European i for one agree with many others. I am sick of European history being butchered by American writers trying to appeal to their multicultural society. If America wants to do this? fuck with their own history and leave Europe’s alone.

  • dagnab1

    yes goddamn it becouse he was from gaul means oenomaus was not black , gauls did not take those type of slave they took romans in response to thier genocide and slavery of the gaelic ,celtic people, my NAME IS FROM GAUL THEY ARE GAEL NOT BLACK

  • Kenneth White

    No matter what the topic- Being dark or light skinned or pale- someone has to fuck up a good show—

  • Fred

    Oenomaus is one of my favorite characters of all time. No one but Peter Mensah could have played that role, he was perfect for it.

  • Fred

    Yes history points that he was Gaul and he was probably not black but the show is about entertainment, not about skin color. I sure as hell can’t see anyone else playing the role of Oenomaus other than Peter Mensah, he nailed it.