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Business of… Piracy

Business of… Piracy

Arrgghh, matey! Kipp takes a look at the modern version of an ancient seafaring crime: Piracy. Who’s behind it, what do they do, and how much do they make?


February 6, 2011 4:21 by

Thanks to pop-culture like the Pirates of the Caribbean movies (and a few fancy dress parties), it’s tempting to associate the history of piracy with the swash-buckling 18th Century. But there have been pirates about as long as there have been ships carrying valuable goods – as long ago as the 13th century BC, in fact. Given its global nature and varied history, we can’t sum it up here, but we will give you our favourite historic pirate’s tale:

Julius Caesar, emperor of Rome, was captured by Pirates in the first century AD. The pirates demanded 20 talents for his release, but Caesar informed them he was worth at least 50. So they demanded 50, and while the money was sent for he lived among the pirates for 38 days, behaving utterly highhandedly “as if he was their leader instead of their prisoner.” He laughed and joked with them when they didn’t appreciate his poetry that he would have them all hanged. Apparently, they were quite taken with his character.

After the ransom arrived and Caesar was released, however, he hunted them down with a fleet and had them killed.

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