Piracy in the Mediterranean during the Roman Empire

June 19, 2018


There is a story about Julius Caesar being kidnapped by Cilician pirates almost 100 years before Miriam’s time. He thought the ransom they asked for was too low for someone of his rank, so he suggested they ask for more. For a month, he waited while the ransom was raised, and then when his friends returned with the money, he sailed off. He then hired a fleet, returned to the island where he had been prisoner, captured his captors, and had them brought to Pergamon where they were crucified.


Piracy also had an effect on Miriam’s family. In THE DEADLIEST LIE, her Aunt Hannah explains:


Your mother came from a family that had once owned and operated a fleet of freighters in the eastern Mediterranean. They’d been wealthy but had lost too many ships to storms in the Aegean and piracy along the Anatolian coast to meet their expenses. At first, your father’s parents objected to the match. They thought her family’s losses presaged a future of bad luck. Besides your mother, even as the only surviving child, had a meager dowry: some Alexandrian pearls, clothing, and cash but no landed properties.


But piracy is an even bigger economic issue today with worldwide losses in the billions. Still many sports teams use “pirate” or related terms such as “raider” or “buccaneer” based on the popularity of that stereotype. (See my blog of November 11, 2016.)



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