Rome, 73 B.C. Spartacus (Kirk Douglas), a Thracian slave, is brought from Libya by Lentulus Batiatus (Peter Ustinov), a Roman trader. He is assigned to the Capuan School of Gladiators. There he meets Varinia (Jean Simmons), a beautiful slave from Britain, and they fall in love. When Spartacus training is almost complete, a Roman general, Marcus Crassus (Laurence Olivier), pays a visit to the school with his protege, Glabrus (John Dall). He demands that two gladiators fight to the death and Spartacus is chosen to confront the Ethiopian warrior Draba (Woody Strode). Draba is victorious, but refuses to finish Spartacus off. Draba turns on Crassua who kills him.