Eye patches, wooden legs and pet parrots are all tell tale signs of a pirate. While sailing the high seas, if you see a ship sailing the black flag with a skull and cross bones, then you had better flee.
Throughout hundreds and thousands of years, the lore of pirates has grown and evolved into a popular idea. The Pirates of the Caribbean movies are a prime example, as well as children’s toys and Halloween costumes.
Pirates date all the way back to the time of the ancient Egyptians in 1350 BCE. They survived all the way through the time of the Romans. At one point, piracy nearly strangled Rome. Trade routes were being plundered and terrorized by pirates and a necessary amount of food could not reach Rome’s people. It was not until Pompey was given enormous control of the army that the pirates were defeated.
Now the important thing to keep in mind is that ancient pirates did not solely live on the open seas like the stories of today say. They actually built their own fortresses and towns. These were the points of Pompey’s main attack. Within two months of the campaign, Pompey had conquered the pirates. Yet this was not the most incredible part of the war with the pirates, instead of killing all of the pirates like any Roman typically would, Pompey spared them. The pirates had families of their own, they were not the stereotypical roving seafarers. Instead, Pompey dispersed them inland to farms and other villages. After the fall of the pirates, Rome held the naval control in the Mediterranean.
Obviously boats had been around for centuries before Rome was even founded. Yet it was still a major form of technology that could sway the power of mighty Rome. Does that mean that boats were evil in its creation? Of course not. It is not the boat that was bad but the use of it. The users, the pirates, were the ones that were evil.
How true is that of today’s society! WIth the invention of computers information became easily accessible. Information such as biographies, trivia and even people’s identities. Modern day pirates can be expanded to cover online identity theft. The computers are simply the tool while the computer user is the one committing the crime. Will electronic pirates soon affect our culture just as the pirates in ancient times affected the city of Rome?
For more on ancient piracy, check out: http://www.cindyvallar.com/ancientpirates.html
The way I got here was going to dmoz.org and searching “ancient pirates”. After scrolling through multiple pages I used the very first link suggested.
P.S. If you’re really interested in Roman history, I stumbled across a nice book published through Cambridge. You can find it here: http://ia600509.us.archive.org/11/items/RomeAndTheEast/CAH9RAE.pdf