Great Stories in History Vol. I

This is an idea I had the other day, and I figure that I will make this a reoccurring post. Whenever I think or remember a good story I will post it with all the pertinent historical details. For the first entry today we will be taking the way back machine to 75 BC. This is the story of Julius Caesar (100-44 BC) being kidnapped by pirates.*

Gaius Julius Caesar

By 75 BC Sulla had won his civil war with Marius–who was Casear’s uncle–and had set up proscription lists of prominent Marius supporters who were to be killed. Although Caesar was not on these lists Sulla was said to have “see more than one Marius in that boy.” Caesar regularly moved around trying to conceal his whereabouts. When he was finally caught by Sullas soldier’s, Caesar bribed the captain, Cornelius, with two talents of gold, and fled to Bithynia. The story gets interesting when Caesar left Bithynia to return home. It was near the the island of Pharmacusa where Caesar was captured by Cilician pirates.

The Pirates initially demanded twenty talents for Caesar. Caesar laughed at the pirates and told them that they should ask for more than that, because he is worth much more than twenty talents. Caesar, himself, offered the pirates fifty talents, and sent off some of his men to go get the money. Caesar was then left there among the “bloodthirsty” pirates with one friend and two attendants. Caesar would spend thirty-eight days with the pirates treating them as subjects. When he wished to sleep he would send for them and tell them to make no noise. He exercised, wrote speeches, and poetry. He amused the pirates by practicing his speeches in front of them, and often he taunted them telling them that he would come back and hang them. At other times Caesar threatened the pirates that he would return and crucify them. The pirates took this all in jest and laughed at the young Caesar.

When his ransom money came, Caesar was released, and he immediately left for Miletus where he gathered ships and men. He left from Miletus, and found the pirates still lounging on the same island where he had been their captive. He took them and their money captive. He took them to prison in Pergamus, and asked the praetor of the region, Junius, to punish them. Junius, however, had his eye on the pirate treasure and took his time coming to a decision. Caesar not wanting to wait left Junius and went to Pergamus. It was there that Caesar had the pirates brought to him and crucified, just as he had promised them.

*The information in this post was taken from Plutarch’s account of the life of Julius Caesar found in Vol II of Plutarch’s Lives. Additional information was taken from Oxford’s Dictionary of National Biography.

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~ by Perpetual Memory Loss on June 10, 2008.

One Response to “Great Stories in History Vol. I”

  1. lol
    Im doing report on him

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