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Batiatus (John Hannah in Spartacus)

Batiatus


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

Context

The rebellion led by the gladiator Spartacus (circa 72 BC)  is a famous bit of Roman history, and has repeatedly been adapted as a story. This profile is specifically based on the first 2 seasons of the Spartacus TV series that ran from 2010 to 2013.

This high-end series, full of violence, sex and intrigue was a fan-favourite.


Background

  • Real Name: Quintus Lentulus Batiatus
  • Other Aliases: Dominus
  • Marital Status: Married
  • Known Relatives: Titus Lentulus Batiatus (father, the paterfamilias, deceased), Lucretia (wife)
  • Group Affiliation: Lanista of the Batiatus Ludus School of gladiators
  • Base Of Operations: The Batiatus Ludus manor
  • Height: 5’9” Weight: 150 lbs.
  • Eyes: Blue Hair: Brown


Ave imperator, morituri te salutant !

Gladiators are usually, although not exclusively, slaves trained as elite fighters in a gladiator school. They are hired by outside sponsors to participate in major gladiatorial games spectated by the Roman elite as well as the common public in a large amphitheatre called the arena.

The games consist of sacrifices and executions and gladiatorial combat between gladiators from different schools and sponsors or against animals. Many types of competitions exist. Get your games going with the proper lingo for the Gladiator school and arena fights! Unleash your inner Lanista and learn the proper Latin terms:

  • Dominus/Domina – Owner(s) of the manor that housed the gladiator school
  • Lanista – owner-informal trainer of the gladiator school (often also the Dominus)
  • Ludus (pl. Ludi) – The gladiator school itself
  • Doctore – Chief trainer, usually a veteran gladiator himself
  • Medicus – the school’s medic slave
  • Editor – Gladiatorial game sponsor, who usually deals with the Lanista, and who decides death in the games
  • Lorarius – Attendant whipper to force reluctant combatants or animals into fighting in the arena
  • Rudis – The wooden sword of freedom occasionally granted to a celebrity gladiator at the very end of the games
  • Paegniarius – Entertainer of burlesque duels during breaks between the gladiatorial fights
  • Tertiarius – third man to fight in a triple match
  • Noxii – i.e. the hurtful ones, slaves rejected for training and sent straight to the arenas
  • Rudiarius – a gladiator that had earned the wooden sword and thus his freedom, but continued as a gladiator

Batiatus screaming in the Spartacus opening credits

While there are a lot of different gladiator classes, Batiatus had his gladiators play only a few of the classes, which are thus presented below in greater detail.

Beyond these there were also the classes Andabata, Arbelas, Bestiarius, Bustuarius, Cestus, Equites, Essedarius, Laquearius, Provocator, Sagittarius, Samnite, Scissor, Velites and Venator – look ’em up, it’s cool reading!

Dimachaerus (pl. dimachaeri)

Gladiators that fight with two swords. The name is a Greek borrowing meaning ’to bear two knives’.

Hoplomachus (pl. hoplomachi)

Gladiators armed to resemble a Greek hoplite. As such they wear heavy armor and helmet, a round shield, a spear and a short sword. The armor itself consists of a bronze helmet, a manica on his right arm, loincloth (subligaculum), heavy padding on his legs, and a pair of high greaves reaching to mid-thigh.

The Hoplomachus was often pitted against the Murmillo, who were armed like Roman soldiers. This may be seen as a re-enactment of Rome’s wars in Greece and the Hellenistic East. The name hoplomachus means ’armored fighter‘, as hoplon means ’shield‘ in Greek.

Murmillo (pl. murmillones)

Gladiators that wore a helmet with a stylised fish on the crest (called the mormylos or sea fish), as well as an arm guard (manica), a loincloth and belt, a gaiter on his right leg, thick wrappings covering the tops of his feet, and a very short greave with an indentation for the padding at the top of the feet.

In typical Roman fashion they wielded the gladius, a 40-50 cm stabbing sword as well as a long, oblong shield in the legionary style. They were often pitted against the Thraecis, but occasionally also against the hoplomachi.

Retiarius (pl. retiarii)

Gladiators equipped thus resembled fisherman. They sported a weighted net (rete), a three-pointed trident (fuscina or tridens), and a dagger (pugio). They were relatively lightly armoured, wearing only an arm guard (manica) and a shoulder guard (galerus), as well as a loincloth (subligaculum) kept in place by a wide belt or, alternatively, a short tunic with light padding. The head and feet were completely unprotected.

The name means ’net-man’ or ’net-fighter‘ in Latin.

Secutor (pl. secutores)

Gladiators (first originating around 50 AD and thus after Batiatus’s time) armed with a short sword, the gladius or a dagger and protected by heavy armor, much like the murmillo. The were often pitted against retiarii, whom they were specifically trained to fight.

Thraex (pl. thraeces)

Gladiators armed in a typically Thracian style, i.e. with a slightly curved blade (sica, looks like a smaller version of the Dacian falx) and a small, rectangular shield (parmula) of about 60 x 65 cm. The sica is notorious for its intent to maim an opponent’s unarmored back.

They wore armored greaves, protection for the sword arm and shoulders, a protective belt above a loin cloth, and a helmet with a side plume, visor and high crest.

The thraex, like the hoplomachus, were often pitted against the murmillo, again re-enacting combat between Roman soldiers and various enemies.


Video

And to further convey the atmosphere, here’s the HD trailer for the show’s first season.


Powers & Abilities

Batiatus has few physical skills, although has proven to be at least somewhat capable with a sword. On the other hand, he is a sly intellect with lots of contacts, an eye towards new opportunities and enterprises and carries a strong will and an intense desire for power.

The manor that houses the ludus is large and there must be at least 20 house slaves and 20 guards, if not more, at all times ready for his commands. The same can be said for all the gladiators as well – thus providing him with several opportunities to carry out his plans, schemes and orders.


History

Quintus (herewith referred to simply as Batiatus) was born the son of Titus Lentulus Batiatus, the Lanista (trainer-owner) of the Batiatus Ludus (Gladiator School) in Capua , just north of Neapolis in the Roman Republic.

The Batiatus Ludus had a long tradition of producing some of the most legendary gladiators in all of Rome. The two never agreed on anything and Batiatus was often considered a disappointment by his father.

Spartacus - aerial view of the arena

He also married a woman, Lucretia, against his father’s wishes. Matters were made worse by the lack of an apparent heir. After a period of illness Titus left for Sicily to recuperate and thus left the school in the hands of Batiatus.

Running the ludus

Batiatus struggled to build the school to new heights of prestige and power. He harbored secret dreams of reaching high political positions, despite the fact that a Lanista is a position of very low social status to start with. He planned purchases, fights and made other schemes along his best friend Solonius and his wife.

As a new grand arena was being planned in Capua. It was most desirable to secure a permanent position to partake in the coming games. This is why Batiatus soon got into a situation of intense, almost lethal rivalry with fellow Lanista Tullius and his understudy Vettius. Both of these wanted to forcibly purchase his best gladiator, Gannicus.

Batiatus had to deal and scheme with or against other potential sponsors or members of the elite such as Varis, Cossutius and Petronius.

His true rise toward independence and power may be seen as having started with the expensive purchase and training of newbie gladiator Crixus, a Murmillo who soon won against the veteran gladiator Auctus. Auctus was one of the very best Hoplomachi trained by his father, Titus.

Daddy’s back

When Titus returned in good health a power struggle immediately took place, one that Batiatus was losing. In order to slate past grievances over, Batiatus planned to grant Tullius the gesture of selling him Gannicus, whom Titus himself did not favor. Neither did Titus approve of Crixus nor of him being a potential new champion.

Furthermore, Batiatus and his wife were going to be thrown out of the mansion and completely disconnected from the father.

While he thought about it, Batiatus was unable to kill his own father. However, Lucretia found all this unacceptable and secretly poisoned Titus’s honeyed wine. Unfortunately, the wine also killed the Melitta, the wife of Gannicus’s best friend, the Doctore Oenomaus, with whom he was having a love affair.

Since Lucretia had made it look as if the wine had come from Tullius or Vettius, everyone’s ire was directed elsewhere from the real culprit.

Back at the helm

Back in control of the Ludus, Batiatus managed to ruthlessly kill Tullius, after he had been captured in an ambush by him, Gannicus, Oenomaus, Ashur, Solonius and a few others. Later Solonius, with a life threat, managed to get Varis to sign over all their gladiators to him personally.

During all this scheming Batiatus eventually managed to alienate his best friend Solonius, who became a very intense enemy and rival. Solonius thus started up his own Ludus with the new gladiators. Thus started a rivalry that would go on for many years.

Batiatus (John Hannah) and Lucretia (Lucy lawless)

This occurred just as the new arena of Capua opened up and where both Batiatus and Solonius had their top gladiators in the games. The long, fantastic games eventually ended with Gannicus, of Ludus Batiatus, becoming the new champion of Capua and a huge favorite of the public spectators.

In the end, Solonius managed to convince the elite and sponsors of the games to grant Gannicus the wooden sword of freedom for his services, which thus cost Batiatus his best man. Batiatus, furious but securely holding control of the Ludus, however, was now a continuous part of the games and eventually managed to get Crixus as the new champion of Capua (Season 2).

Enters Spartacus

In time, Batiatus purchased new gladiators, including a Thracian they renamed into Spartacus, with the intent of rising to new glorious heights. Through much intrigue, scheduling, murder, political plays, bribing etc. Batiatus gained in power.

He started seeing Spartacus as a new potential champion, making him promises that he had no intent on keeping in order to prompt him into obedience and action.

Then, in order to get Spartacus’s mind only on becoming a champion, Batiatus had Spartacus’s wife, who had also been taken a slave, murdered just as he was reunited with her. This ruthless act that would eventually lead to his own death.

During this time Batiatus also managed to end the old rivalry by framing Solonius for the murder of a magistrate. Solonius then got sentenced to die in the arena at the hand of Batiatus’s later champion, Spartacus.

Things get out of hand

When Spartacus eventually found out the truth about his wife’s death, his allegiance changed into revenge. He started plotting the downfall of the Ludus. Spartacus attempted to get his rival Crixus, whom most of the gladiators of the school would follow, to join the plot but this failed.

Lucretia, who had been using Crixus for sexual favors in an attempt to get pregnant, then tired of him. She decided to have him killed. Thus, as Spartacus had to fight Crixus for the decision of who should be presented as the champion of Capua at the coming games, she saw to it that Crixus was poisoned and weakened so that he would loose.

Spartacus found out this right before the fight. After a long hard struggle, he managed to convince Crixus that it was all lost and that the dishonorable house of Batiatus must fall for all of their sakes. Crixus thus helped Spartacus attack the attended elite and Batiatus on the balcony, and even managed to convince loyal Oenomaus that this was the right thing to do.

Thus started a revolt, with Spartacus and Crixus being the leaders. Nearly everyone in the mansion, including Batiatus and wife, were killed – finally getting all that they deserved. This started off the slave revolt that would become known as the Third Servile war of the Roman Empire (Season 1).


Description

Batiatus is a middle-aged man of relatively little physical training. He is usually clad in a robe typical of his social class, and on occasion attempts to upgrade his looks in order to appear of a higher social class.

Batiatus will either be seen with a smile or a frown, depending on his current mood. He will rarely carry any weapons, but effectively wields words as weapons when agitated.


Personality

Batiatus is an arrogant and impatient man in pursuit of money, power and political status, in an almost psychotic manner. However, he all too often manages to hide his ambitions, manipulations and greed behind a friendly countenance.

The Ludus serves as his platform and the gladiators are but pawns in his game for power. He cares none, in stark contrast to everyone else he encounters, for the fact that his position as a Lanista is a very lowly position socially (perhaps equal to a modern pimp).

As such, he carries ambitions far beyond his title, which clouds his judgement. He does not hold the skills of diplomacy, only trickery and deceit. He is reasonably wealthy, but occasionally gets into huge debts, due to impatience to gain further power, that he must then fix through high stakes and gamble.

He greatly enjoys flaunting his wealth and even the most minor of victories, either in his private life or in the arena games. This is even more fulfilling if done in the face of competitors or rivals, and then in particular towards former friend, Solonius.

Ruthless

He is not beyond arranging kidnappings or even murder to reach his goals. Neither is he beyond arranging orgies, in a somewhat secret fashion, in order to accommodate the rich elite. In fact, it must have been one of the greatest days in his life when he managed to frame Solonius for the murder of the magistrate and having him condemned to death in the arena.

The best days were probably when he could behold the roar of the public as his gladiators became the new Champions of Capua against the best that could be offered from outside sources.

Batiatus' gladiator school in Spartacus

Clearly, he carries a deep-seated, exceptionally ruthless streak. Batiatus often lets his own emotions get the better of him. While usually an excellent wordsmith and orator his anger can make him speak in haste and out of turn. He has apparently always thought himself above all others around him, and then even his closest friends.

This eventually led him to push away his best friend and advisor, Solonius, into becoming a full rival and enemy, a fact that Batiatus seems to regret not at all. It is more as if Batiatus subconsciously enjoys having strong rivals to fight.

Cruel

He can be exceptionally cruel and calculating as shown by the feat of gaining Spartacus’s services in return for arranging the return of his wife, Sura, back to him, albeit dead by Batiatus’s choice. By accomplishing this Spartacus would have nothing outside of the school to fight for, only for the school itself and the honor of blood and sand.

This of course led to his eventual demise some time after Spartacus later found out the truth. At another time, he first beat up an interrogated man with a bronze goblet, and once information had been had, cut his throat. He then proceeded to kill the entire family of the rival, at the hands of his loyal bodyguard and gladiator Barca.

The apparent hint of Barca having failed in his task, which disloyal Ashur falsely made him believe – the particular being the killing of a child – led to him having Barca killed and again he personally cut the throat.

Still, rivals are dealt with even harder – Tullius was stabbed and buried beneath the newly built arena they both desired while Solonius was sent to die in the arena at the hands of Spartacus.

However, he does deeply and genuinely love his wife, Lucretia. Then again, Lucretia is of the same manipulative stock and calibre as Batiatus himself, and he will often listen to her equally Machiavellian advice. While he doesn’t really seem to care much about having an heir, he knows it’s important to his wife and attempts to accomplish this for her sake.

Better nature

While he harbored a deep-seated rivalry and near-hated towards his father he proved incapable of killing him in order to eliminate the blockage to his own future goals, which tells us that he is either not completely corrupted and evil, or that he is sometimes too weak to personally go after what he desires.

Indeed, he almost never carries out his plans personally, but regularly uses middle hands, unmarked slaves and mercenaries.

In his defense it must also be said that he once had a sense of true honor, and camaredie. He wanted to mend fences with his father, and rightfully and legally reach higher positions in life. His father’s general disapproval felt heavy for him.

During the games he usually does whatever pleases the crowd or his editor, but he will refuse to throw away expensive gladiators unless it provides a powerful bargaining chip for future power and position. As such, he practically always has profit in mind, and removes all thoughts of kindness, softness and empathy from his mind.

Temperamental

While he clearly enjoys the games, the joy of acquisition of profits from the victories of his men will dwarf any other emotion. Thus, when things don’t go his way, he will be morose, bitter, temperamental and even evil. He can thus be an utterly cruel opponent and a vicious Dominus.

Batiatus' gladiator school in the arena

That said, emotionally Batiatus is a swift creature who depending on his mood will appear either very friendly or very menacing. Most of his gladiators have learned to read his moods to know when and how to approach him properly. They also know that their lives are subject to his moods and inspirations, and that he can be completely without conscience or mercy.

Still, when things go well he rewards the good gladiators and has managed to build up a strong sense of unity among the schools members based in false honor. He always promises them the opportunity to eventually purchase their freedoms, but has no intention of ever keeping this promise, unless his hand is forced to do so.

His demeanor tends to shift very suddenly, particularly if negative information reaches his ears.

At such times he will turn quite blasphemous towards even the Gods, caring little for others opinions about them. Considering this, he cannot really be much of a believer in the Gods himself; still he thanks them when all goes well. All in all, Batiatus swears a lot (actually a lot like Ellis Albert “Al” Swearengen of the Deadwood series).

He enjoys the life of the rich, even if it’s never enough for him. This includes wine, food and social gatherings – usually with an extra agenda and actions that are suited to the guests, including fights, orgies and other entertainment.

Batiatus may be an excellent host, which costs him more than he really can afford, but this usually furthers his goals and future paychecks enough so that he can manage. That said, power, money and status is what life is all about!


Quotes

(Speech to the gladiators) “Everything we have dreamed of, suffered and died for, the worth of it all has turned to this single moment. You are about to face the house of Solonius and his ill-gotten men. You stand outnumbered, but not outmatched. Only one man will claim victory this day and earn the title of ’Champion of Capua‘. And by the gods, that man will be from the fucking house of Batiatus !”

“See their hatred boiling beyond control ! This was merely a taste for tomorrow they will settle this grudge in the arena. Crixus, the Undefeated ! Spartacus, the dog who defies death ! A fight for the ages ! Glory to Capua ! Glory to Rome !”

“I never want to hear the name Gannicus spoken within these walls again. Nor Tullius and his cock-eating apprentice. Such things are in the past. Let us look towards a brighter future. We will see this house elevated… beyond my father, beyond Solonius and beyond the fucking Gods themselves. We will leave our mark upon this city. And one day, we will see proper reward for all that we have done.”

“No. Let her death send out a warning, to all others that would seek to betray me.”

Batiatus (John Hannah) in Spartacus Blood and Sand

(Agitated) “That shit fuck beckons me to the city only to spurn me like a thin-waisted whore. Once again the Gods spread the cheeks to ram cock in fucking ass !”

“At last, the gods remove cock from fucking ass ! The House of Batiatus… no, the House of Quintus Lentulus Batiatus, rises to the fucking heavens !”

(To Spartacus) “You shit upon honorable agreements and press for fresh demands. Tell me Thracian, how will you pay for her release if found ? Hmm ? Her transport ? Do you shoot magic coins out of your ass ? If so, squat and produce !”

(Speaking to the gladiators from his balcony) “We have won many victories in the arena. Sent many an unworthy opponent to the afterlife. Yet self-important men hold us to the lesser matches of the morning, absent of both eyes and prominence. Such time has found its end. Two days hence our champion will take to the sands to face another of Vettius’s shiteating dogs. Not in the streets, but in the fucking primus ! Behold, the champion, whose recent performance inspired good Varis to return to the house of Batiatus, to his proper position. Behold: Gannicus ! A true god of the Arena ! A man to be admired and emulated ! This is but glorious beginning ! Soon you’ll litter the sands with blood and bone of all who present challenge ! Instructed in the ways of death and glory by a former champion ! One of our very own ! I give you Oenomaus ! No longer to hold that name, no longer a gladiator, now and forever more he will be revered as your Doctore !” (holds up the hands of Gannicus and Oenomaus to the roar of the gladiators)

(Last words to revolting gladiators) “You were nothing before me. I gave you everything ! I gave you the means to accept your fate !”


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Batiatus

Dex: 02 Str: 02 Bod: 02 Motivation: Power Lust
Int: 05 Wil: 04 Min: 04 Occupation: Lanista
Inf: 04 Aur: 02 Spi: 03 Resources {or Wealth}: 10
Init: 011 HP: 020

Skills:
Charisma: 04, Weaponry (Melee): 02

Advantages
Connoisseur, Gift of Gab, Language (Old Latin, possibly also Greek), Expertise (Gladiator Appraisal)

Connections:
The Batiatus Ludus (High), Marcus Decius Solonius (High, earlier only), The Doctore of the Batiatus Ludus (High), Capua Underworld (High, through former Gladiator Ashur), Capua Street (Low)

Drawbacks:
Married (Lucretia), Minor Irrational Attraction (higher positions of power)

By Dr. Peter S Piispanen

Source of Character: Spartacus TV-series, character played by John Hannah

Helper(s): Jimmy Leppänen

Writeup completed on the 9th of May, 2013.

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