Act I: Scene 1: Invasion. The military machine of imperial Rome, led by Crassus, wages a cruel campaign of conquest, destroying everything in its path. Among the chained prisoners, who are doomed to slavery, are Spartacus and Phrygia. Spartacus’ Monologue. Spartacus is in despair. Born a free man, he is now a slave in chains.
Scene 2: The Slave Market. Slave dealers separate the men and women prisoners for sale to rich Romans. Spartacus is parted from Phrygia. Phrygia’s Monologue. Phrygia is overcome with grief. She thinks with horror of the terrifying ordeals that lie ahead of her.
Scene 3: Orgy at Crassus’s Palace. Mimes and courtesans entertain the guests, making fun of Phrygia, Crassus’s new slave. Aegina draws Crassus into a frenzied, bacchanalian dance. Drunk with wine and passion, Crassus demands a spectacle. Two gladiators are to fight to
death in helmets with closed visors, i.e., without seeing each other. The victor’s helmet is removed. It is Spartacus.
Scene 4: The Gladiators’ Barracks. Spartacus incites the gladiators to revolt. They swear an oath of loyalty to him and, of one accord, break out of the barracks to freedom.