Terrorism Over the Years

As Terrorism in theAncient Roman World put it,”Terrorism is probably as old as human society. In the ancient Roman world there were no words for ‘terrorism or terrorists. However, the acts of terrorism inflicted in those days were not unlike those of modern times. Then, as now, there were people willing to employ a calculated use of force and terror to accomplish their ends. Though the ancients may have called them rebels or brigands or tyrants, the motives, the methods, and the outcomes are familiar to people of our era under the collective name of terrorism.”  Yeah, in the Roman world the acceptable limits of warfare were more liberally drawn than today, but even so people sometimes hid in shock and horror at acts clearly beyond the line.  “War is terror within bounds; terrorism is terror beyond those bounds.”  There is no doubt that war has always been part of our society, but when it comes to terrorism the line is a little more unclear.  To make it a little more clear look back at the incident in the summer of 82 a.d.  Three Roman warships were hijacked.  The captains of two were murdered and the third captain decided to obey his captors.  The hijackers sailed along the coast.  They struck port cities and took what they wanted by force. However, local resistance and their own lack of skill eventually brought the hijackers to ruin.

Even today we are in the midst of pirates.  This did not just happen back in the Ancient Roman times.  Just this year the Bahamas-registered Seabourn Spirit was attacked off the coast of Africa by pirates firing a rocket propelled grenade and machine guns (Pirates attack luxury cruise liner at sea.  And there are so many cases of this.  I remember a few years ago some Americans were taken hostage by pirates and our Navy Seals were called in.  The times of Terrorism have not changed at all.  There might be different motives and ways that terrorism is being carried out, but we are still surrounded by it every day just as the Romans were.



-Sam Starks


3 thoughts on “Terrorism Over the Years

  1. hopeadvancedlatin Post author

    This is a very relevant topic considering what just happened in Boston last week, and it is interesting to see what terrorism was like in Rome especially since they didn’t have the technology to make bombs like most terrorist attacks today. I wonder if you could consider assassinations as a form of terrorism in ancient Rome. I know that there were a lot, such as Brutus the leader in a plot to kill Caesar. The goal of these assassinations were usually political so I don’t know if you would consider them terrorism, but many terrorist attacks today are trying to make a political statement also. Just some thoughts!
    -Skylar H.

  2. hopeadvancedlatin Post author

    I really enjoyed this post, Sam, thank you. I think the big difference between the piracy you mention and modern day terrorism we hear about all too often is that piracy was focused on obtaining money or material goods, whereas modern terrorists act on ideals. I’d be interested to know if this kind of terror was very common in Ancient Rome. Were there religious extremists who would commit acts of violence because of their dissatisfaction with Roman culture?

    -Arbiter Bibendi

  3. hopeadvancedlatin Post author

    I think you bring up a lot of points and questions that our society as whole needs to confront. Yes, of course, terrorism is bad, but I feel like people’s complex motivations are waived away by calling them terrorists. Happy, well adjusted people don’t run around on violent ideological crusades. I think the question we need to ask is not “How can we stop terrorists?”, but is “What drives someone to commit terrorism?”. More security and paranoia will not solve anything. I feel like there’s a Bush joke in their somewhere, but I’ve decided to cut back on them. Therefore, I’m going to stay the course.
    -Sir St. Dr. F. Scott Fitzgerald Rev. Dr. T-Wizzle Ederix T-Pain PHD. PI.


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