Piracy in the Graeco-Roman world


Piracy in the Graeco-Roman world

Philip de Souza

Cambridge University Press, 2002

  • : pbk

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Bibliography: p. 243-253

Includes indexes



This book is an innovative historical study of piracy in the Graeco-Roman world from the Archaic period to Late Antiquity. It explores the conditions which allowed piracy to flourish in the ancient Mediterranean, especially the close relationship between warfare and piracy, and examines the impact which pirates had upon ancient society. Particular attention is paid to the numerous states and rulers who claimed to be actively suppressing piracy for the good of all. In many cases these claims turn out to be highly exaggerated ones, intended to enhance the prestige of those on whose behalf they were made. Surprisingly, in view of the prominence of pirates in many works of classical literature, this book is the first to offer detailed analysis of the portrayal of piracy by ancient writers, including Homer, Cicero and the ancient novels, taking account of the political, social and literary contexts which shaped their accounts.


  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. The origins of piracy from the Bronze Age to Alexander
  • 3. Hellenistic piracy
  • 4. Cilician piracy
  • 5. Pompey and the pirates
  • 6. Pax Romana
  • 7. Piracy in Late Antiquity
  • 8. Conclusions.

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