The magnificent ballet Spartacus contains everything one might expect from a great epic: tyranny, the uprising of the downtrodden, passionate love and eventual despair. The creativity of the Russian composer Aram Khachaturian drew on folk music; the influences of Armenian, Georgian and Azerbaijani music can be felt in the ballet, into which Eastern rhythms are skilfully worked, giving it an additional mysterious hint of the Far East and musical exoticism. At the time it was written, in around 1956, the ballet was seen in the Soviet Union as an instructive allegory of the proletariat rising up against the ruling bourgeoisie. The events in the ballet explain why: in the year 73 BC a gladiator called Spartacus led one of the biggest ever uprisings of slaves in Roman times and, indeed, in history. The ensuing war lasted two years. When the revolt was finally quashed, the future Roman consul Marcus Licinius Crassus had 6,000 captured slaves crucified along the Appian Way out of pure revenge and as a warning to others. With its colourful music and tragic historical story, Spartacus has become a trademark of the Bolshoi Theatre.