The Strategy and Tactics of Piratical Attacks in Thucydides

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The Strategy and Tactics of Piratical Attacks in Thucydides
Yeakel, Jeffrey
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[Gainesville, Fla.]
University of Florida
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1 online resource (74 p.)

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Master's ( M.A.)
Degree Grantor:
University of Florida
Degree Disciplines:
Classical Studies
Committee Chair:
Wolpert, Andrew Oxman
Committee Members:
Pagan-Wolpert, Victoria E.
Kapparis, Konstantin
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Subjects / Keywords:
Archaeology ( jstor )
Cities ( jstor )
Guerrilla warfare ( jstor )
Navies ( jstor )
Piracy ( jstor )
Pirates ( jstor )
Seas ( jstor )
Slavery ( jstor )
Trade routes ( jstor )
War ( jstor )
Classics -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
athens, banditry, guerilla, peloponnesian, piracy, pirates, sparta, stasis, thucydides, war
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
born-digital ( sobekcm )
Classical Studies thesis, M.A.


The critical role of piratical attacks (leisteia) in Thucydides History of the Peloponnesian War is an often overlooked component of Athenian and Spartan strategy. Athens and Sparta launched operations at Pylos, Delium, Decelea, and various other places with the goal of establishing bases from which piratical raiders could harass enemy lands. Thucydides even claims that the constant piratical raids from Pylos and Cythera were one of the major causes of Sparta s ratification of the Peace of Nicias. Piratical attacks also became the preferred means of reprisal for parties exiled after stasis. The exiled aristocratic parties at Epidamnus, Corcyra, Mytilene, and Megara each turned to piracy in order to weaken their former cities and attempt to regain lost power. Athens even set up an anti-piracy base at Atalanta in order to secure their trading routes from the threat of Euboean piracy, and also later sent ships to combat Peloponnesians who were committing piracy along Asiatic shipping routes. In addition to his narration of actual piratical attacks, Thucydides also conceptualized theoretical links between piracy and state stability. In the Archaeology, Thucydides outlined the historical rise of naval powers from Minos to the Corinthians. In each case, consolidation of power was predicated upon the suppression of piracy to secure resources. When the Mycenaeans besieged Troy, a lack of resources forced them to make continuous piratical raids, thus hindering their capacity to wage war most efficiently. Therefore, Thucydides viewed piracy as intimately connected to state stability. A strong state was one that could suppress piracy and secure its resources, but a weak state was one that allowed unchecked piracy and even actively supported piratical attacks. Thucydides also conceptualized the atrocities committed during piracy as part of a dilapidating moral trend in Greek society because of the Peloponnesian War. The increase in sponsored offensive piratical attacks signified a growing weakness in Greek societies, which echoed Thucydides own anxieties about the overall destructiveness and destabilization caused by the Peloponnesian War. ( en )
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by Jeffrey Yeakel.

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2 2009 Jeffrey Yeakel


3 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I thank the chair of my committee Dr. Andrew Wolpert for his guidance throughout the study and his time spent helping with many valuable revisions. I thank the members of my supervisory committee, Dr. Konstantinos Kapparis and Dr. Victoria Pagn, for their expertise and helpful comments.


4 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS...............................................................................................................3 ABSTRACT....................................................................................................................... ..............5 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION................................................................................................................. ...7 2 MODERN APPROACHES TO PIRATICAL STUDIES......................................................18 3 COUNTER-PIRACY THEORY AND TACTICS.................................................................30 Counter-Piracy Theory in the Archaeology............................................................................31 Counter-Piracy Operations during the War............................................................................38 4 STRATEGIC ADVANTAGES OF OFFENSIVE PIRATICAL ATTACKS........................44 Stasis-Driven Piratical Attacks...............................................................................................4 6 Athenian Sponsored Piratical Attacks....................................................................................50 Spartan Sponsored Piratical Attacks.......................................................................................57 5 CONCLUSION................................................................................................................... ....63 BIBLIOGRAPHY................................................................................................................... .......70 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.........................................................................................................74


5 Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts THE STRATEGY AND TACTICS OF PIRATICAL ATTACKS IN THUCYDIDES By Jeffrey Yeakel May 2009 Chair: Andrew Wolpert Major: Classical Studies The critical role of piratical attacks ( leisteia ) in ThucydidesÂ’ History of the Peloponnesian War is an often overlooked component of Athenian and Spartan strategy. Athens and Sparta launched operations at Pylos, Delium, Decelea, and various other places with the goal of establishing bases from which piratical raiders could harass enemy lands. Thucydides even claims that the constant piratical raids from Pylos and Cythera were one of the major causes of SpartaÂ’s ratification of the Peace of Nicias. Piratical attacks also became the preferred means of reprisal for parties exiled after stasis. The exiled aristocratic parties at Epidamnus, Corcyra, Mytilene, and Megara each turned to piracy in order to weaken their former cities and attempt to regain lost power. Athens even set up an anti-piracy base at Atalanta in order to secure their trading routes from the threat of Euboean piracy, and also later sent ships to combat Peloponnesians who were committing piracy along Asiatic shipping routes. In addition to his narration of actual piratical attacks, Thucydides also conceptualized theoretical links between piracy and state stability. In the Archaeology, Thucydides outlined the historical rise of naval powers from Minos to the Corinthians. In each case, consolidation of power was predicated upon the suppression of piracy to secure resources. When the Mycenaeans besieged Troy, a lack of resources forced them to make continuous piratical raids, thus hindering


6 their capacity to wage war most efficiently. Therefore, Thucydides viewed piracy as intimately connected to state stability. A strong state was one that could suppress piracy and secure its resources, but a weak state was one that allowed unchecked piracy and even actively supported piratical attacks. Thucydides also conceptualized the atrocities committed during piracy as part of a dilapidating moral trend in Greek society because of the Peloponnesian War. The increase in sponsored offensive piratical attacks signified a growing weakness in Greek societies, which echoed ThucydidesÂ’ own anxieties about the overall destructiveness and destabilization caused by the Peloponnesian War.


7 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION The hijacking of the Sirius Star off the coast of Somalia in November 2008 and the recent attack on the Maersk Alabama in April 2009 thrust the serious threat of modern piracy into the international spotlight. Until these attacks, many thought of piracy as an antiquated practice with no bearing on the modern world, except perhaps when pirates appear in Hollywood films as romanticized swashbucklers. The theft of the Sirius Star, the largest ship ever pirated in naval history, a VLCC (very large crude carrier) class oil tanker as big as an aircraft carrier, however, alarmed the global public to gravity of the situation. The pirates held hostage a crew of twentyfive and initially demanded a twenty-five million dollar ransom for the ship and crew.1 The following April, the assault on the Maersk Alabama brought the issue to the forefront of American political discourse, as well. The pirates, for the first time, attacked an American flagged ship and held an American captain hostage. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton began to outline political and military strategies to stabilize the region.2 The attacks on the Sirius Star and Maersk Alabama, coupled with the current threat of international terrorism, reinforced the importance of acknowledging and understanding the contemporary perils of piracy. Piracy has proven particularly hazardous for the modern world because of its economic impact and its destabilizing effects on regional security. In our globalized modern economy almost ninety-five percent of commerce takes place over water.3 The BBC estimates that in 2008 piracy cost the global economy around sixty to seventy million dollars in increased costs of shipping and that the Somali pirates alone received over one hundred and fifty million dollars in 1 BBC News: Africa. 2008. “Pirates capture Saudi oil tanker,” British Broadcasting Corporation, (accessed January 30, 2009). 2 Labott, E. 2009. “Clinton unveils initiative to combat ‘scourge of piracy’,” Cable News Network, (accessed April 16, 2009). 3 Burnett 2002, 11.


8 ransoms.4 The extra economic burden comes from paying these ransoms, detouring shipping routes, and increasing on-ship security. The economic impact is felt especially hard when the pirates seize ships carrying the world’s most valuable commodity: oil. In order to stretch profit margins, oil companies frequently outfit ships with only skeleton crews and the most basic security measures.5 These practices leave oil tankers particularly exposed to pirate attacks. Oil companies will likely need to spend more on security measures in response to the rapidly increasing frequency of piracy. In addition to adverse economic effects, pirates further weaken those governments in their areas of operation that are ineffective and susceptible. When the United States created its new counter-piracy task force (CTF 151) in the Gulf of Aden region, the commander stated that the force was needed for “the deterrence of destabilizing activities” and to “develop security in the maritime environment.”6 Piracy seems to thrive in instable environments by further destabilizing them. The response to the incident has demonstrated an international recognition of the threat’s severity. Major news outlets worldwide have begun providing frequent updates on the status of hijacked ships, like the Sirius Star and Maesrsk Alabama, and general featurettes on piracy in the Somalia area. In addition to the establishment of CTF 151 as a solely counter-piracy task force in the Middle East, in January 2009, the United States Fifth Fleet also deployed the USS San Antonio, an AFSB (afloat forward staging base), as a versatile and mobile base for combating piracy and as the flagship for the task force.7 The European Union additionally launched its first 4 BBC News: Africa. 2009. “Q&A: Somali Pir acy,” British Broadcasting Corporation, (accessed January 30, 2009). 5 Burnett 2002, 78-80. 6 Combined Maritime Forces Public Affairs. 2009. “New Counter-Piracy Task Force Established,” U.S. Naval Forces, il/articles/2009/001.html (accessed January 30, 2009). 7 Goodwin, B. 2009. “San Antonio Key to C ounterpiracy Mission,” U.S. Naval Forces, (accessed January 30, 2009).


9 joint naval action in its fifteen years as a union in order to combat piracy in the Gulf of Aden region.8 The combined task force has been titled Operation Atalanta, ironically sharing its name with the Athenian anti-piracy base at Atalanta, the first of its kind established during the Peloponnesian War.9 Modern piracy has risen to level of international crisis because it affects the global economy and security. Thucydides’ history of the Peloponnesian War provides a unique opportunity for the modern reader to examine similar problems created by piratical attacks in an ancient wartime context. Thucydides both narrated the specifics of pirate and bandit tactical attacks and reflected on the connections between piracy and warfare. Incidents of piracy and banditry littered his account of the strategies and tactics that occurred during every stage of the war and even before it began. Thucydides, however, also focused on piracy’s theoretical link with finances and state stability. For example, Thucydides would hardly have been surprised that the EU decided to form its first navy in response to piratical threats. For Thucydides, the organization of a navy was predicated on the need to combat piracy. Piracy took a far greater role, however, in shaping the events of the Peloponnesian War than simply as the stimulus for naval formation. Piratical attacks ranged from an economic problem for the Athenians to an offensive strategy promoted by both the Athenians and Spartans. It is important first to identify precisely what kinds of actions Thucydides considered ‘piracy’ and what kind of people he calls ‘pirates’. The Greek word for pirate that Thucydides exclusively uses is along with its derivative forms: the noun for piracy or piratical attacks, the adjectives and for piratical, and the verb for 8 EU NAVFOR Somalia. 2009. “One month on, EU NAVFOR ma kes a difference in counter-piracy,” Council of the European Union, (accessed January 30, 2009). 9 More detailed information on Atalanta will be provided in Chapter 3.


10 making a piratical attack.10 The range of meaning for the words seems to encompass the English words for pirate and piracy, but also to go beyond just nautical armed robbery. A landbased armed robber, or bandit, also was called a in Thucydides. Following a section describing nautical piracy, Thucydides stated that “[the early Greeks] committed armed robbery against each other on the land as well” ( 1.5.3). Based on this information, one might be tempted to consider any sort of armed robbery in Thucydides, whether by land or sea, Thucydides, however, conceptualized as an even more nuanced term than just any armed robbery, as will be evidenced below. Piracy, of course, had existed in the Greek world well before Thucydides and the Peloponnesian War. As far back as Homer, the root seems to have encompassed the concepts of piracy. The Homeric heroes themselves are never directly called pirates, despite their frequent raiding forays.11 Odysseus, however, provides a story that we might read as a typical pirate raid during the Homeric period. He pretends to be the son of the Cretan Kastor and recounts that Zeus “compelled me to go to Egypt with roving pirates” ( Od. 17.425-26). Then he gives a depiction of how the raid played out: But the pirates were caught up in hubris, driven by their own power, Hastily they plundered the rich fields of the Egyptian men, They carried off the women and small children, 10 De Souza 1999, 2-9, in his excellent survey of pir acy throughout the Graeco-Roman world, identifies two other Greek words that can mean “pirate”: and Both of these words come into existence after Thucydides is writing, however, so his only word for pirate is 11 De Souza 1999, 18.


11 And they killed the men. ( Od. 17.331-34) Although, as de Souza observes, “warfare and piracy are virtually indistinguishable in Homer,”12 it is clear from the Homeric references that a distinct group of people labeled as “pirates” or existed in the period. Furthermore, the from Odysseus’ story behaved in accordance with our English conception of piratical behavior: indiscriminate looting, capturing slaves, and killing. There also seems to have been at least some sort of negative connotation associated with the label as far back as Homer. The pirates from the tale above eventually caused the capture of Odysseus’ character because of their hubristic raiding. It remains unclear how the companions earned their label of Did their hubris while raiding make them into in contrast with well-tempered raiders? Or, did some other indeterminate trait, such as their social status, define them as ? Perhaps it was some combination of all these factors. Whatever the case, it is at least obvious that the idea of piracy emerged from the Archaic Period as in some way different than other types of warfare, despite its similarity to other plundering acts not labeled piracy. A word search of the root in the TLG reveals Herodotus only mentions words five times in the whole of his history. He seems far less concerned with the phenomenon than Thucydides. Herodotus’ use of the term is scattered and limited. Some instances include the Samians stealing the corselet and mixing bowl of Croesus on a piratical raid (3.47), the Pelasgi capturing Athenian women from Brauron on a piratical raid (4.145), and a Phocaean named Dionysius becoming a pirate, sailing to Sicily, and preying on ships there (6.17). Besides these references, Herodotus uses a root word only two other times. The first instance comes when describing the less-civilized Thracian tribes who apparently sold their own children to 12 De Souza 1999, 21.


12 slavery, tattooed themselves all over, and dreamt of a completely idle life. Herodotus concludes their list of customs by stating that for them, “warfare and raiding is the best way of living” ( 5.6.8). Herodotus draws a distinction here between warfare ( ) and piracy ( ). The Thracians would have employed both of these methods to secure their luxurious lifestyle, but obviously there must be some differentiation between them to necessitate coordinating both terms. Herodotus also applies the pirate label to a Spartan named Glaucus when he “plunders” ( ) a sum of money entrusted to him by a Milesian (6.86). Glaucus consults the oracle at Delphi to decide whether or not to “pirate” the money, but the Pythia’s speech of course convinces him to return it. Herodotus’ uses of reveals two important aspects of the concept. First, continues to refer to smaller-scale military actions not a part of formal warfare, such as Dionysius’ nautical plundering and the Pelasgi raid on Brauron. Second, as the Glaucus story demonstrates, Herodotus can also employ metaphorically for non-military situations, when raiding or plundering does not have any actual part of what is described. Therefore, it is worth briefly examining some general characteristics of present in Thucydides’ history. First, Thucydides suggests that nowadays Greek only operated out of the more decentralized territories. He identified specifically the Ozolian Locrians, Aetolians, Acarnanians, and others on the Greek mainland as practitioners of contemporary piratical raiding ( 1.5.3). Second, several incidents reveal information about pirates that Thucydides assumed common knowledge for his audience. For instance, pirates typically maneuvered in smaller numbers than a legitimate military fleet. Nicias failed to notice the arrival of Gylippus in Sicily because he assumed the small number of


13 Gylippus’ ships meant they were a pirate flotilla and not a legitimate Spartan fleet ( , 6.104.3). Thucydides also suggests pirates had distinctive ships and had potentially inferior weaponry. The Myceneans sailed for Troy in ships with no decks that Thucydides called pirate-like ( 1.10.5). Demosthenes likewise procured arms for his troops at Pylos from a Messenian thirty-oared pirate ship ( 4.9.1). Finally, Thucydides described the shields that these Messenian pirates were carrying as poor-quality and made of wicker ( [ ] 4.9.1). We should also briefly consider who were not in Thucydides. Although Thucydides makes use of the words far more frequently than either Homer or Herodotus and piracy played a far greater role in influencing the course of the Peloponnesian War, Thucydides does not assign the label to every armed naval or land robbery. Seemingly he reserves it only for those actions which he did not consider to be part of legitimate warfare or For instance, Thucydides does not label as the Spartan policy of capturing any ship they came across on the sea and executing its crew whether they were allied with the Athenians or neutral ( 2.67.4). The label is similarly absent from the account of the Spartan commander Hippocrates’ policy of seizing merchant ships on trade routes from Egypt to Cnidus in 411. Thucydides even described the ships as waiting in ambush off Triopium in a very ‘piratical’ fashion, yet he still did not call the action (


14 8.35.3).13 This incident parallels the piracy in 430 against Asiatic merchant ships near Caria by anonymous Peloponnesians that Thucydides did term (2.69). The two incidents appear strikingly similar except for one detail: the operation of 411 was led by the naval commander Hippocrates, while the piratical attacks in 430 had no reported commander. One might conclude from this analogy that Thucydides did not consider actions committed under a legitimate commander a form of In Homer, the aristocratic heroes were never themselves labeled and their plundering is not In Thucydides, as well, a named commander never leads an operation described as The only possible exception comes at Decelea, but Thucydides is clear that Decelea was an atypical operation. Thucydides states that the watchmen from the fort were making piratical raids ( 7.27.4), but that King Agis was there in person ( 7.27.4) and was treating the operations as no different than a legitimate campaign ( 7.27.4). Obviously, this is a case where a legitimate commander is at least supervising a bandit raid. Thucydides, however, is keen to point out the uniqueness of this operation. His statement that Agis was treating the raiding as a major campaign underscores the fact that this was not the normal way of conducting piratical raids. It is impossible, however, to conclude definitively that Thucydides did not consider certain operations such as the Spartan hijack of merchant ships in 411, simply because he refrained from using the term Yet, it is clear enough that, as de Souza 13 The Spartans’ tactics in this incident (8.35) fit so well into our conception of the English word ‘piracy’ that de Souza 1999, 32, n. 50, even cites it as an example of piracy during the Peloponnesian War where we can clearly establish the identities of the ‘pirates’. He categori zes it as such despite the lack of any form of in the text.


15 recognizes, Thucydides “makes a distinction between formal warfare and what he calls leisteia (plundering).”14 therefore has a broad spectrum of meanings in Thucydides and does not simply correlate with our English word ‘piracy’. Piracy, in English, refers to acts of armed robbery or criminality on the sea. however, can refer to acts both by sea and by land (1.5). It can also describe military actions more complex than simple robbery. The common conception of piracy involves the opportunistic targeting of booty-laden merchant vessels. Pirates might sit along trading routes or attack specific targets, but the piratical act is a single attack in which the pirates hijack the ship and all its goods, and then sail away as discretely as possible. however, could involve sustained attacks on the same selected targets over a long period of time. For instance, the Naupactian bandits stationed at Pylos made continuous piratical raids against Messenia for over ten years. These kinds of tactics led MacDonald to label in Thucydides as “a form of guerilla warfare.”15 Consequently, the ‘core meaning’ of seems to be any type of raiding tactic by land or sea, including piracy, banditry, and guerilla warfare, which stands in contrast with legitimate pitched battles ( ). The best translation to encompass the whole of this core meaning is therefore ‘piratical attacks’. My study investigates the ways that piratical attacks ( ) affected finances, state stability, and military strategies in Thucydides’ history by a close examination of the context and details of the many piratical attacks that took place throughout the war. The first of my thesis’ three major goals is to examine thoroughly and catalogue each incident involving some sort of throughout all eight books of the history. The second is to explore the extent of piracy’s influence on the strategies and outcome of the Peloponnesian War. The third is to examine 14 De Souza 1999, 31. 15 MacDonald 1984, 77.


16 ThucydidesÂ’ views of the conceptual relationship between piratical attacks and state stability. My thesis outlines ThucydidesÂ’ observations that piracy inhibits state development and stability and show how this concept becomes incorporated into the military strategies of Athens and Sparta over the course of the war; both defensive strategies for combating piracy and offensive strategies of sponsoring different forms of piratical attacks. Recent sociological models and approaches of how to interpret pirate or bandit behavior that will be helpful for interpreting ancient Greek piracy are reviewed in the second chapter. The third chapter analyzes ThucydidesÂ’ theories about the relationship between the suppression of piracy and state formation in the Archaeology and the few counter-piracy operations launched by Athens during the Peloponnesian War. In the fourth chapter, I am concerned with how wartime piratical attacks related to the phenomenon of stasis and how each side incorporated piratical tactics into an offensive strategy to destabilize their enemies. Finally, I conclude with a summary of the many ways piratical attacks affected the Peloponnesian War and a final discussion of how Thucydides conceptualized piracy and its impact. Piratical attacks played a critical role in Peloponnesian War in a variety of ways. Thucydides understood piracyÂ’s role and devoted a significant portion of his Archaeology towards developing a theoretical relationship between piracy and state formation. Piracy posed a threat to AthensÂ’ Periclean policy by disrupting nautical trading routes all over the Greek world. Piracy became a method for parties exiled by factional conflict to obtain revenge and renew their power. Piracy and banditry even had the power to foment new stasis in cities by limiting available resources and creating instability. Finally, both the Athenians and Spartans eventually sponsored offensive piratical and bandit raids against their opponents in order to create instability and compensate for their own military deficiencies in certain areas. This study will


17 also reveal two new aspects of piratical attacks during the Peloponnesian War. First, it will emphasize the influence that fear of piracy and banditry had upon the local populations of Greek cities. Fear of raiding caused the Spartans to accept the Peace of Nicias and frequently caused stasis to break out in other Greek cities. Second, it will examine the complexity of the methods used by pirates to carry out their attacks during the Peloponnesian War. It will present evidence that pirates and bandits had to employ multifaceted techniques as part of their raids, including extensive communication with the local populations. To my knowledge, this nuance of piratical behavior in Thucydides has not yet been fully explored. Piracy did not just involve finding victims with goods and stealing them. Pirates became an integral part of innovative tactics and the overall military strategies of both sides. These observations provide new insight into how both the Athenians and the Spartans recognized the relationship between and political destabilization, and exploited it by adopting offensive strategies critical to the final outcome of the war.


18 CHAPTER 2 MODERN APPROACHES TO PIRATICAL STUDIES The nature of piratical attacks creates problems for the historian attempting to interpret their behavior. Because pirates and bandits usually operate outside of societal structures and depend on discretion for attacks, their identity is frequently unknown or misreported. Even details of their attacks are often unclear and missing vital information. This is especially true for the classical Greek world where references to piracy are sparse and often unclear. While lack of evidence prohibits any empirical or statistical study of ancient piracy or banditry, scholars have developed other approaches for interpreting bandit narratives. Sociological and anthropological studies can fill in the gaps in our evidence. Comparative evidence from other societies, such as ancient Rome1 and the European-colonized Caribbean, also can expand our understanding of pirate and bandit behaviors. By reading piracy in Thucydides against sociological models and comparative evidences, we can better understand how pirates involved in the Peloponnesian War operated in those passages where ThucydidesÂ’ own evidence falls short. The first study that must be mentioned in the review of scholarship on ancient piracy is Philip de SouzaÂ’s Piracy in the Graeco-Roman World published in 1999. His excellent book remains the only modern comprehensive study of ancient piracy. He took a diachronic approach, analyzing piracy over the period from approximately 800 BCE through 700 CE and presenting it as a dynamic and changing phenomenon that affected political policy in many periods. De Souza relied solely on textual evidence because he claimed pirates left no material remains that one could study archaeologically.2 His evidence consisted of histories, novels, legal codes, and 1 Comparative studies about ancient Rome naturally will prove the most help ful because of RomeÂ’s temporal and geographic proximity to ancient Greece, as well as its actual interactions with Greek literature and culture. Therefore, models developed about Roman pirates and ba ndits feature more prominen tly in this chapter than comparative bandit studies of other societies. 2 De Souza does, however, supply vase painting and mosaic evidence of what may have been pirate attacks.


19 inscriptions that attest to the prevalence of piracy in his periods. Because he relied so heavily on textual sources, part of his methodology dealt with how to interpret the deeds and identities of pirates in the cultural and historical contexts of the sources. De Souza asserted that often times authors applied the pirate label to those types of people we would not consider pirates according to a modern definition. The sources labeled political enemies, rogue states, and even defeated foes as pirates as a method of rhetorical attack. De SouzaÂ’s close analysis of these subtleties in the identification of the people and deeds behind pirate attacks separated his study from previous pirate studies earlier in the century.3 The previous assemblages of source material tended to treat piracy as an unchanging practice, similar to that of Caribbean piracy. In Thucydides, de Souza found piracy ( ) distinct from formal warfare, but difficult to analyze because of the lack of identities ascribed to the pirates.4 Therefore, he did not offer any model or overall theory to explain how piracy was functioning specifically in Thucydides. Modern approaches have frequently involved the creation of systemic models to help describe how pirates and bandits would behave under certain sociological conditions. This chapter will begin by examining the work of Eric Hobsbawm, who attempted to develop a sociological model to define and even predict individual bandit pirate behavior and motivations.5 HobsbawmÂ’s work legitimized the field of bandit research and established the building block for all subsequent work. Next, the chapter will look at the sociological model advanced by Brendt Shaw, in which he laid out the societal conditions in the Roman Empire that gave rise to banditry.6 An assessment of Thomas GrnewaldÂ’s literary typologies for Roman bandits will 3 Ormerod 1924. 4 De Souza 1999, 31-32. 5 Hobsbawm 1959, 1969. 6 Shaw 1984.


20 follow Shaw.7 Lastly, the chapter will consider the model advanced in Peter Leeson’s forthcoming book The Invisible Hook that Caribbean pirates’ behavior can be analyzed according to rational choice theory.8 Eric Hobsbawm created his very influential sociological model for bandits in Primitive Rebels9 and further developed it in Bandits.10 In these books he established the model of the ‘social bandit’. Hobsbawm’s social bandit had socio-political motivations that were essentially based on the character of Robin Hood. He acted rebelliously against an unjust society for the benefit of the local community that supported him. The ‘social bandit’ model did not, however, describe the behavior of ‘common bandits’ or those with no political motivation. Hobsbawm also asserted that his model applied to all pre-industrial agricultural societies, including ancient Greece and Rome. Social bandits would arise in any pre-modern society that met the basic conditions outlined in his model. The social bandit’s career unfolded with such “remarkable uniformity and standardization” that Hobsbawm felt the social bandit rose to the level of an anthropological constant.11 The bandit becomes such after committing an act that his local community would not have deemed criminal or unjust, but the governing state did. In order to avoid an unjust prosecution, he flees to the hills or wilderness of his locality. There he relies upon the local area for support and resources in order to wage his banditry against the unjust authorities. Often, many of these social bandits come together into bands with the support of a local retainer, but never form any sort of recognized class amongst themselves.12 7 Grnewald 1999. 8 Leeson 2009. 9 Hobsbawm 1959. 10 Hobsbawm 1969. 11 Hobsbawm 1969, 14. 12 Hobsbawm was careful to avoid Marxist interpretations.


21 Three sociological necessities forced the social bandits to rob from rich and give to the poor: First, the rich had more to rob and so made better targets. Second, the bandits would lose their local support if they did not. Third, pre-capitalist societies relied upon status; so if the bandit wanted to increase his support, he needed to be able to offer gifts and other status symbols. Such displays of wealth connected the bandit to the local community, rather than distancing him from it. Modern examples fitting this model have recently come out of Somalia. Pirates operating out of the Somali village Eyl have revived the economy of the small coastal town with their booty hijacked from the ships of richer countries and corporations. Mary Harper has reported for the BBC: “Fancy houses are being built, expensive cars are being bought all of this in a country that has not had a functioning central government for nearly 20 years.”13 The local community, in turn, has been sheltering the pirates for providing such material benefits. Hobsbawm asserted that the social bandit model became universal because similar sociological conditions were present in each society. The similar aspects ubiquitous in stories about social bandits were not derived from one another, but came about because these societies exhibited similar structures and faced similar situations. Hobsbawm presented the necessary conditions as such: first, the bandit must arise from a rural and not urban society. Second, he must come from a traditional, pre-capitalist society. Finally, the social bandit will only appear when “the traditional equilibrium is upset.”14 According to Hobsbawm, where such conditions are found, almost universally there too will social bandits. Hobsbawm’s sociological model for the ‘social bandit’ became the focal point of the majority of subsequent pre-industrialized bandit research, even though nearly all have been 13 Harper, Mary. 2008. “Life in Somalia’s pira te town,” British Broadcasting Corporation, (accessed February 12, 2009). 14 Hobsbawm 1969, 24.


22 critical of his conclusions.15 In 1971, Anton Blok published the first and most influential response to Hobsbawm. He pointed out that Hobsbawm’s model relied upon observers’ perceptions of the bandits’ intentions rather than the bandit’s true intentions. True ‘social bandits’ frequently only existed in others’ minds.16 Later scholars followed up on Blok’s initial skepticism and continued to analyze the individual reports of ‘social bandits’ focusing on the context of each unique bandit in its individual literature.17 Some even have challenged Hobsbawm’s assertion that bandits necessarily operated with the support of their local community, and they have concluded that local populations often despised the presence of ‘social bandits’.18 Although Hobsbawm’s conclusions that his model amounted to an anthropological constant have been frequently refuted, his work still provides a critical building block upon which all subsequent models have been built. Brent Shaw developed the first sociological model for banditry in the classical world in “Bandits in the Roman Empire.”19 Shaw’s study concerned itself with questions such as: What drove people to banditry? What historical conditions provoked their existence? And, how did the motivations and perceptions of historical authors affect their portrayals of bandits? Although Shaw discussed Hobsbawm’s model and its criticisms, he developed his own methodology for tackling ancient banditry and did not merely apply Hobsbawm’s model to case studies from the 15 Some influential examples include Blok 1971, 1972; O’Malley 1979; Gallant 1988; Antony 1989; and Mayaram 2003a, 2003b. Antony 1989, 123, most critically questions the relevance of framing bandit research around Hobsbawm’s scholarship: “the concept of social banditry is very limiting and indeed a poor analytical device for studying banditry and its role in societ y in general”. Of course, his article nevertheless begins with a review of Hobsbawm’s model. 16 Blok 1972, 500. 17 For the ancient world, see Shaw 1984; Van Hoof 1988; Grunewald 1999. 18 Gallant 1988; Mayaram 2003a, 337-38. 19 Shaw 1984.


23 ancient world.20 His study focused on the Roman societal structure that facilitated the rise of bandits rather than developing an anthropological model for defining the behavior of individual bandits. He decided that the actions of individual bandits as reported by the sources “are most difficult to judge both in terms of intent and meaning.”21 Shaw defined bandits ( latrones ) as “men who threatened the social and moral order of the state by the use of private violence.”22 Although the Roman sources did not provide a social typology to distinguish between different types of banditry, Shaw attempted to break them down into categories including pastoral raiders, feuding villages or ethnic tribes, communal revolts during initial ‘Romanization’, urban crime, piracy, and full-scale wars that were called bandit raiding for ideological reasons.23 Romans viewed bandit attacks as inevitable and uncontrollable as natural disasters and were ubiquitous throughout the Roman Empire. Bandit attacks appeared as causes of death on many tombstones. The Romans built watchtowers, gates, and other fortifications along all roads in order to dissuade such attacks.24 In line with Hobsbawm’s model, Shaw also observed that Roman bandits had wide networks of local support. In order to suppress the banditry, a Roman administrator had to strike at their bases or foment disloyalty and betrayal within that support.25 The Romans passed laws that identified latrones as distinct from common criminals. They lacked legal rights, were subject to summary executions, and were, in essence, ‘non-persons’. 20 For such an approach to Roman banditry see Van Hoof 1988. Van Hoof applies Hobsba wm’s model of the social bandit to Rome. He concludes that Roman bandits so metimes but did not always follow Hobsbawm’s model for the social bandit. 21 Shaw 1984, 41. 22 Shaw 1984, 4. 23 Shaw 1984, 7-8. 24 Shaw 1984, 8-12. 25 Shaw 1984, 14-18.


24 Shaw finally concluded with his model describing what social conditions provoked the rise of bandits in the Roman Empire. He observed that the label of latro eventually extended to all ‘de-stated’ and violent people that fell into the gaps of Roman society. Bandits were fundamentally connected with the imperfect rise of the ancient ‘state’. The formation of ‘weak states’ provided the societal gaps necessary for the rise of bandits.26 He supported his theory with both linguistic and historical evidence. Before the state existed, in the Homeric and Archaic periods, Shaw claimed that contained no negative connotations and societies incorporated banditry as part of their system.27 The Latin root latr exhibited a similar neutral meaning: ‘work done for compensation’ or ‘hired labor’. The meaning of the Latin word evolved, however, during political crises of the fourth century BCE. Latro changed from meaning a neutral ‘laborer’ to a negative ‘mercenary laborer’ that committed violent acts for compensation. Shaw extrapolated that when the Roman military system developed it was entirely private citizen-based and did not rely on mercenaries, so such violent men became outsiders in Roman society. The term latro therefore also became pejorative.28 When Rome began conquering and dominating other peoples, latrones came to describe any violent outsiders who did not fit into the Roman society. “Such men were never seen simply as common criminals,”29 and did not even retain the common legal privileges granted to common criminals. Banditry filled in the gaps where Roman culture and society did not quite fit squarely with Roman military domination. Shaw concluded that “it is that peculiar space left by the incomplete domination of archaic states that allows for the existence of an interstitial group of men who must be defined in 26 Shaw 1984, 41-43. 27 Shaw 1984, 24. 28 Shaw 1984, 26-28. 29 Shaw 1984, 22.


25 relation to, and in opposition to, the state.”30 Consequently, the existence of banditry in Romancontrolled territories indicated a weakness of the Roman state in those areas of the empire. Thomas Grnewald, in Bandits in the Roman Empire: Myth and Reality,31 sought to create literary typologies that explained the different ways those writing about bandits categorized them. Grnewald objected to the methodologies employed in previous bandit scholarship, including Hobsbawm’s and Shaw’s works. He thought that ‘social bandits’ did indeed exist in the textual sources, but he did not think that the sources reflected the actual behavior of such bandits in society. He essentially argued that Hobsbawm’s ‘social bandit’ was not an anthropological model, but a literary one. The social bandit lived only in the literature of the Roman Empire and not in its actual provinces. Grnewald posited that Roman historians imposed Robin Hood behavior on different types of bandits in order to serve the individual literary purposes of their narratives. Grnewald undertook a prosopographical study of individual bandits in order to break down Roman bandits into various typologies. He divided literary bandits into four types, ‘real bandits’, ‘bandit rebels’, ‘bandit rivals’, and ‘bandit avengers’. ‘Real bandits’ were those that ancient historians referred to only in passing. They were often anonymous and had no reported political motivations; their only clear motivation was gain.32 From these ‘real bandits’, Grnewald thought one could find a relatively accurate blueprint for actual bandit behavior. Since this type of bandit was closer to reality, Grnewald considered ancient historians’ literary depictions of real bandits to contain more historical fact and less political labeling. He concluded, however, that significant research into the apolitical, ‘real’ bandit “fails” due to a lack 30 Shaw 1984, 49-50. 31 Grnewald 2004. 32 Grnewald 2004, 14-15.


26 of evidence.33 Despite acknowledging the ubiquity of Roman fear of bandits, Grnewald makes a curious assertion about ‘real bandits’ that “for the people of the Empire, the bandit was probably not so much a physical threat as a psychological one, a symptom of anxiety.”34 He even recognizes the embellishment in statements like those of Velleius Paterculus’ that “The pax Augusta, which has spread to the regions of the east and of the west and to the bounds of the north and of the south, preserves every corner of the world safe from the fear of brigandage.”35 The pirates and bandits of Thucydides’ history fit into Grnewald’s typology of ‘real bandits’; yet, I am hesitant to agree with Grnewald’s conclusion that such brigands only posed a danger psychologically and not physically. Although Thucydides often depicts the psychological power of the threat of piratical attacks, the psychological danger comes from the real atrocities that often accompanied such attacks. Shaw expresses a similar sentiment in a review of Grnewald’s book: “though fiction, [literary bandits] narrate a certain reality, namely that such men and women were not just ‘objective types’ but were part of a continuous process of power and creation that deserves closer and more critical examination.”36 A final model for analyzing piratical behavior comes from Peter Leeson’s recent series of economic articles and forthcoming book, The Invisible Hook ,37 which consider pirates under the rational choice theory. Leeson contends that pirates of the ‘Golden Age’ of piracy (1690-1730), operating according to rational choice theory to maximize their benefits and reduce their costs independently, developed many socially beneficial practices. Pirates produced their own 33 Grnewald 2004, 162. 34 Grnewald 2004, 32. 35 Grnewald 2004, 18; Vall. 2.126.3: Diffusa in orientis occi dentisque tractus et quidquid meridiano aut septentrione finitur, pax Augusta per omnis terrarum orbis angulos a latrociniorum metu servat immunes 36 Shaw, Brendt. 2000.2.12. “Rev iew of Grnewald, T. 1999. Ruber, Rebellen, Rivalen, Rcher: Studien zu Latrones im rmischen Reich ” Bryn Mawr Classical Review : 4. 37 Leeson 2009.


27 institutional checks and balances of power and democratic constitutions.38 Racial tolerance even arose among pirates because of the necessities of self-interest under the rational choice theory.39 Rational choice theory also explains how pirates marketed themselves to the public. Caribbean pirates created the ‘Jolly Roger’ flag in order instill fear in approaching ships and make capturing them easier because of the decreased resistance. The ‘Jolly Roger’ also ensured that pirate ships would not waste time and resources combating each other.40 Pirates also depended on word of mouth and printed advertisement of their ‘heinous’ deeds in order to minimize risky behavior by those whom they attacked.41 Pirates would even spread advertisements that they committed forced impressments anticipating the future need of such an argument if they were ever accused of piracy in a trial.42 Although rational choice theory has come under much criticism as a behavioral theory,43 Leeson’s model of ‘Golden Age’ piratical economic practice nevertheless contributes to our understanding of piracy in Thucydides. Leeson’s focus on the economic nuances of piratical behavior reminds Thucydides’ reader that pirates do not operate solely on the level of “get booty at any cost.” As with their Golden Age counterparts, ancient Greek pirates had a variety of methods, motives, and even institutions which they developed to assist their piratical raids. Just as any other individual, a pirate sought his own benefits and weighed their costs. Pirates, however, operated outside of legitimate societal enterprises for acquiring resources, and for that reason have received their unique and pejorative label. Hence, the reader of Thucydides ought to 38 Leeson 2007. 39 Leeson 2009. 40 Leeson 2008, 6-14. 41 Leeson 2008, 15. 42 Leeson 2008, 32-35. 43 See Green & Shapiro 1994; Schram & Caterino 2006.


28 have an eye for similar economic nuances in ancient Greek piratical behavior in order to fully appreciate their role in the Peloponnesian War. The models developed by these scholars have demonstrated that a study of piracy and banditry in Thucydides must account for the uniqueness of each reference and also the sociological and literary context of the rest of Thucydides’ history. Under Grnewald’s typologies, the common bandits were the one group he thought ancient historians accurately reflected in their texts. Almost all of the piratical attacks in Thucydides fall into this typology. Rarely does Thucydides specifically identify the pirates beyond a generalized group, such as ‘the Peloponnesians’. Even less frequently does he ascribe political motives to the bandits or pirates. As a result, the reader can interpret Thucydides’ reports of pirates as historically accurate under Grnewald’s model for ‘real bandits’. Leeson’s model of the ‘rational choice’ pirate reminds the reader that economic impact of piracy was often a complex phenomenon. Pirates came up with innovative methods for their piracy and constantly searched for way to get the most benefit out of their operations. During the Peloponnesian War, it should consequently not surprise the reader to notice the variety of ways that piratical attacks played a role. Thucydides reports pirates affecting Athenians trade routes, being commissioned by cities to perform offensive raids on their enemies, and even fomenting instability of legitimate governments in Greek city-states. Finally, according to Shaw, the presence of bandits in an ancient society reflects a weakness of that state and its inability to extend its societal influence to the limits that its military influence has reached. Under this model, what does the increase in instances of piracy and banditry in Thucydides reveal about the weaknesses of Athens and Sparta during the Peloponnesian War? Does an increase in susceptibility to piracy and bandit raids signify the weakening of that state’s influence in that area? What does it mean when both sides start sponsoring offensive piratical


29 attacks on their enemies as part of their war strategies? ShawÂ’s model will demonstrate how the increase in piracy as an offensive tactic reflects the growing weakness in Greek societies that mirror ThucydidesÂ’ own anxieties about the overall destructiveness and destabilization caused by the Peloponnesian War.


30 CHAPTER 3 COUNTER-PIRACY THEORY AND TACTICS Counter-piracy, in modern military terminology, is a state’s military and political response in order to counteract current dangers caused by piracy, with the ultimate goal of suppressing any future piracy. In response to the U.S. Navy capture of pirates off the coast of Somalia in January of 2006, Lt. Michael Bahar, the Staff Judge Advocate for the strike group that made the seizure, wrote an article defining the legal and strategic theory for future U.S. Navy counter-piracy operations.1 Bahar sought to obtain a model of ‘optimal deterrence’ that balanced the tricky issue of providing security for the region against piratical attacks, and yet avoiding too aggressive of a response. Bahar feared that “too aggressive a military and investigatory response will actually increase both the costs and the dangers of piracy.”2 Excessive military presence in the region might have provoked further anti-American sentiment and made it less likely that local governments would cooperate in investigations and prosecutions of pirates. Therefore, Bahar had to propose an optimal amount of force for counter-piracy operations that would increase safety and decrease costs for nautical trading routes, but would not attract excessive terrorist activity or alienate American allies.3 Bahar’s search for an optimal counter-piracy strategic theory illuminates just some of the many complexities that any strategy for combating piracy involves. In the Archaeology, Thucydides develops his own theory about the suppression of piracy. Thucydides theorizes that in order for a state to secure its resources and build up its imperial strength, it first needs to acquire a navy and put down piracy. He traces this development from Minos to the commercial rise of Corinth and her navy. After the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War, Thucydides also 1 Bahar 2007. 2 Bahar 2007, 6. 3 Bahar 2007, 8-9.


31 describes a few incidents in which Athens made her own attempts to combat piracy and secure her trade routes. Early in the war, the Athenians likely took these piratical attempts very seriously as they threatened to undermine a major component of Pericles’ strategy for winning. Athens’ reliance on her empire made securing shipping lanes absolutely essential. The Athenians would have viewed any attack on allied merchant ships, tribute-bearing ships, or ships involved in the grain trade as a setback in the war effort. Sparta’s strategy of seizing and killing the crew of any ship not allied with her reflects this fact (2.67). Combating piracy will prove critical to Thucydides’ presentation of the Peloponnesian War both in the theory of strong state formation and in Athenian tactics and strategy for winning the war. Counter-Piracy Theory in the Archaeology In Thucydides’ Archaeology, combating piracy is a necessary step in the process of naval empire formation. This is significant since many scholars have observed that the Archaeology provides the key to reading the rest of Thucydides’ history. Thucydides attempts to describe connections between early Greek history and his own time, as well as introduce and outline those themes he perceives important to the Peloponnesian War. Finley appreciates Thucydides’ “bold suggestion that there was a continuity and a development in Greece from the most ancient (mythical) times to his own.”4 Hornblower asserts that “key concepts or emotive phrases from the later books are introduced very early in the Archaeology: this is surely programmatic.”5 Its programmatic nature thus permits the reader to develop a generalized theory about piracy from the Archaeology that will prove applicable to the rest of the history.6 This theory predicts a direct correlation between the prevalence of piracy and a city’s stability and imperial power. Garlan, as 4 Finley 1975: 18. 5 Hornblower 1991: 8. 6 For more on the programmatic nature of the Archaeology see Hunter 1982.


32 well, acknowledges the model in Thucydides that piracy directly affects state power.7 Piracy will hinder the power growth of all the archaic Greek cities. Only by suppressing piracy will the cities stabilize and be able to acquire power. Thucydides provides evidence for the theoretical association in three episodes from the Archaeology: the description of early Greek land and sea pirates (1.5-7), MinosÂ’ first navy (1.4 and 1.8), and the Corinthians (1.13). The episode about the earliest Greek pirates (1.5-7) first demonstrates how piracy can interfere with ThucydidesÂ’ model of empire formation. The section begins with a general formula explaining the rise of piracy in the Greek world. As soon as the Greeks and barbarians began to communicate and trade over the sea between each other, they turned to piracy ( 1.5.1). The implies a causal link between the two ideas. The increase in unsecured trafficking across the seas naturally led to the development of piracy. Furthermore, those Greeks and barbarians that first turned to the seas lived along the coasts of the mainland and on the islands ( 1.5.1). Their proximity to the water determined that their primary method for attaining a surplus would come through the seas. Because pirates hindered free travel on the seas, however, these early Greeks were unable to amass such surpluses. In addition to preventing free navigation of the sea, early piracy also threatened the few resources early cities did possess. The early pirates attacked unfortified cities town by town in order to secure most of their livelihood ( 1.5.1). The pirates were able to seize so much booty from the cities that they could depend solely on pirated gains to live. 7 Garlan 1978: 10.


33 Also, the unfortified nature of the towns enabled the pirates to plunder them; a point that Thucydides returns to in 1.7. The early Greeks suffered similarly from land-based bandit attacks ( 1.5.3). As a result it became normal for the Greeks to carry weapons with them wherever they went (1.6.1). The lack of fortifications and insecurity of their homes meant carrying personal weapons was their only recourse against piracy. Early pirates also hindered the formation of empires by occupying positions of power and functioning as a sort of ‘rogue state’ themselves. Thucydides describes the leading pirates as powerful men who support their own weaker peoples ( 1.5.1).8 Instead of submitting themselves to stable governmental institutions, weaker people submitted to the strong pirates, who could support them with booty and protection. This arrangement appears to have been a common one among these early pirates, since Thucydides claims there was no shame in such actions and it was even considered honorable ( 1.5.1). According to the ancient poets referenced by Thucydides, these pirates even had no fear of admitting they were pirates after arriving at port ( 1.5.2). Therefore, by occupying the same position of power as a legitimate state, the strength of these pirates prevented the growth of state power. 8 It is worth noting how Thucydides’ presentation of the early pirate may appear to lend credence to Hobsbawm’s model of the social bandit. The pirates in 1.5 were str ongmen operating on behalf of w eaker peoples. Furthermore, they seemed to have had the support of their communitie s, since there their practices brought honor and were not shameful. They could even proclaim them selves to be pirates when entering ha rbors. Thucydides’ evidence for their behavior, however, is based on conjecture and inferences from the ancient poets, and thus supports Grnewald’s claim that the social bandit is not an anthropological constant, but a literary one.


34 The placement of early Greek cities also reveals piracy’s ability to prevent strong state formation by hindering the free use of the sea and interfering with the security of resources. Although the most natural placement for cities was the coastline to foster trade, the early Greeks could not do so from fear of piracy ( 1.7.1). They had to build them both on the islands and in the mainland far away from the sea. The previous episode (1.5) showed how the unfortified cities proved easy prey for pirate raiding. But, Thucydides repeats that the pirates robbed everyone who lived along the coasts, even if they were not seafaring peoples ( 1.7.1). Not until the Greeks were able to acquire surpluses of money were they able to build walls and move down to the coasts and isthmuses ( 1.7.1). This assertion looks forward to the next two episodes when Minos and the Corinthians are able to use their surpluses to establish empires and combat piracy in order to settle along the coasts and isthmuses, thus increasing their surpluses from seaborne trade. In conclusion, unchecked in early Greece limited naval travel and attacked personal property security, thereby hindering the formation of empire. At the end of 1.4 when first discussing Minos, Thucydides lays out his theory of causality between suppressing piracy and securing resources: As was natural, Minos suppressed piracy in order to secure his resources ( , 1.4.1). This passage establishes a clear theoretical relationship between the suppression of piracy and the acquisition of wealth. The extent of that relationship depends on the understanding of the phrase Hornblower suggests that translating the phrase “as was natural” goes too far since Thucydides’ source


35 material was too sketchy. He favors the translation “probably” to reflect some sort of uncertainty.9 Thucydides, however, repeats this formula so frequently throughout the Archaeology that it becomes a natural theory. Westlake additionally notes that in the five other instances when Thucydides uses the phrase it always means “as was natural.”10 Once Minos, or anyone else, puts down the piracy that limits his use of the sea and the acquisition of wealth, naturally his resources will become more secure and pave the way for empire. Thucydides attempts to prove his theory further in 1.8 when he claims that before Minos’ navy, piracy was widespread throughout the other Aegean islands ( 1.8.1). He offers pseudo-archaeological evidence to support his argument. When Delos was purified during the Peloponnesian War, more than half the graves were identified as Carian ( 1.8.1), based on the types of weapons and method of burial ( 1.8.1). The large quantities of their graves suggested to Thucydides that they used to commit regular pirate raids against the island.11 The presence of these pirates among the islands gave cause for Minos to build up his navy. Interestingly, after Minos acquired his navy, he did not combat the pirates through naval skirmishes or battles. Instead, he purged them by the more complex method of sending colonies to the islands ( 1.8.2). Because of Minos’ naval 9 Hornblower 1991, 22. 10 Westlake 1969, 153ff. 11 There is debate over whether or not Thucydides’ conc lusions from his attempt at archaeology are valid. Cook 1955 believes Thucydides is confusing geometric Greek grav e goods as Carian. Most subsequent scholars, including Hornblower 1991, have agreed with hi m. Gomme 1945, 107, however, reports th at the scholia mention ‘inventions’ of the Carians were found in the graves that uniquely id entified them as Carian and note that Phoenicians buried their corpses to the west instead of to the east like Greek s. Nevertheless, because of his unclear methodology, it is unlikely Thucydides’ archaeological conclusions were valid.


36 excursions, sea communication and trade increased ( 1.8.2). The increase in accessibility to the Aegean Sea consequently led to an increase in the wealth of the islanders and a growth in civic power. Thucydides directly attributes this prosperity and the more secure living it provided to the suppression of piracy ( 1.8.3). Under these conditions, the Greeks could also improve their city placements over the landlocked cities of 1.7. No longer were they forced to found cities and live inland out of fear of piracy. Because of their surpluses, they both needed to and were capable of protecting their newfound capital by building walls around their cities ( 1.8.3). Once Minos had driven out the pirates from their positions of local power, the well-protected cities were stronger and more capable of taking over the power that the pirates previously possessed. The weaker cities and tribes, desiring prosperity of their own, submitted themselves in slavery to these more powerful cities ( 1.8.3). Just like the early pirates, the strong forced the weak into submission ( 1.8.3). Now, however, affluent states gained power not by raiding but through trading. By enslaving the weaker cities, these nascent stronger cities took up the positions of power vacated by the expelled pirates. In effect, the more powerful cities began forming these proto-empires by appropriating the power that the pirates had wielded. ThucydidesÂ’ description of CorinthÂ’s rise to power (1.13) exhibits the culmination of ThucydidesÂ’ model for empire building and piracyÂ’s relationship to it. The key to CorinthÂ’s power came from the sea. Her navy supported her growing wealth and the wealth in turn allowed


37 her to increase the navy. The Corinthians were the first to utilize contemporary ship building techniques, and they even built the first triremes in all of Greece ( 1.13.3). With this naval power, the Corinthians could defend the valuable trading position provided to them by their geographical location on the isthmus. Thucydides even states that the Corinthians always had a trading-center because of the isthmus ( 1.13.5). Any communication or trade that came into or out of the Peloponnese had to go through Corinth ( 1.13.5). As a result their power came from their wealth ( 1.13.5). Thucydides lays out the formula for the growth of CorinthÂ’s wealth, and subsequent power, like this (1.13.5): First the Greeks began to trade and communicate more by sea ( ). Next because the Corinthians built up their navy, they were able to suppress piracy ( ). Finally they were able to build trading posts ( ), and the influx of wealth brought more power to their city ( ). This sentence summarizes ThucydidesÂ’ by now standard formula for the growth of archaic state power: surplus of wealth + control of seas = power. Piracy, however, subtracts from the formula because it can limit both wealth and control of the seas (wealth + control of seas + piracy power). In order to avoid ending up enslaved to pirates like the earlier Greeks, both Minos and the Corinthians had to remove pirates from the equation in order to establish their power.


38 Counter-Piracy Operations during the War Despite the importance of combating piracy and conducting counter-piracy operations in the Archaeology, there are only a few references to undertakings against pirates once the war narrative begins. Moreover, neither the Athenians nor the Spartans ever discussed in deliberative speeches the suppression of piracy as a strategic objective. In fact, Sparta did not launch any operations against pirates. Athens only launched two tactical operations, both of which occurred in the first two years of the war. Why was this? This section will analyze the details of the two Athenian counter-piracy operations and search for possible reasons why they did not conduct any others. Athens launched her first anti-piracy operation of the war during the summer of 431 (2.32). The Athenians had already enacted the Periclean strategy of withdrawing inside the long walls. The Spartans had come on their first campaign and ravaged their lands, but had withdrawn without a decisive battle. So far, everything had gone according to PericlesÂ’ plan. Then, at the end of the summer of 431, the Athenians decided to build a fort on the island of Atalanta. The island, near Opuntian Locris previously had been uninhabited ( 2.32.1); clearly, Atalanta was not a strategic location for anything other than securing the waters around it. The Athenians used the base to counter pirates that were sailing out from Opus and other parts of Locris and raiding Euboea ( 2.32.1). Presumably with a fortified base on this island, the Athenians were able to keep a closer eye on the straits between Euboea and the mainland. Atalanta also would have provided a safe place for Athenian trading ships to dock in the area.


39 The fortification of Atalanta was one of Athens’ first offensive operations of the war and demonstrated the true concern that the Athenians had for combating piracy. This first military action was not an incursion into Peloponnesian territory. Nor did the base directly defend their territory in Attica from Peloponnesian land invasions. Instead, they decided to fortify an island for combating piracy in Euboea. Why did the Athenians bother occupying and fortifying a nonstrategic island for attacks on the Peloponnese or direct defense of Athens? The expedition demonstrates that, at least at the outset of the war, the Athenians were committed to maintaining their empire as usual in addition to waging the new war against Sparta. Moreover, it reveals the importance of maintaining secure trade routes to the Periclean strategy. Evidence from Thucydides and other classical authors suggests that the straits between Euboea and the Greek mainland was a vital segment of the Black Sea grain-trading route. Thucydides 3.2.2, Herodotus 7.147.2, and Xenophon Hellenica 1.1.35 all make mention of the Athenians importing grain from Pontus. Furthermore, the quickest and cheapest trade route during the war for the food coming into Attica from the Black Sea was overland from Euboea. The route went from Oropus through Decelea.12 Especially now that the Athenians had cut themselves off from their crops around Attica, the preservation of their imports trade routes became vital.13 A pirate-free zone in the Euboean straits therefore became a strategic objective for Athens. The counter-piracy base at Atalanta would have provided such protection for these trade routes. 12 The strategic importance of a secure overland trade rout e from Oropus to Decelea will become quite evident when Sparta captures Decelea and forces a costly detour of the r oute in 413 (7.28). See the next chapter for details on this incident. 13 Garnsey 1988, 200, argues that Athens’ reliance upon grai n trade has been overestimated in many regards and downplays its importance in the fifth century. He cites higher grain yield numbers for classical Athens than previously estimated and concludes that it “reduced the pl ausibility of any model of the grain supply of Attica.” In contrast, Reed 2003, 16-19, asserts th at incomplete and paltry data renders any statistical justification for conclusions on the grain trade invalid with too large a marg in of error. He favors the view that Athens did rely heavily on its grain trade based on the importance of maritime grain traders in Athenian culture and the legal system. He concludes, “in the classical period the grain trade offered work for large numbers of maritime traders; and the need for grain at Athens, and probabl y elsewhere too, became acute enough to make these traders indispensible” (19).


40 The Athenians launched a second major counter-piracy operation the next year in the winter of 430 (2.69). The general Melesander commanded a fleet of six ships to the Asian coast for anti-piracy maneuvers. They sailed to the areas of Caria and Lycia with two objectives: to collect tribute from the area and to stop Peloponnesian pirates from establishing a base there. The Athenians wanted to stop the pirates from disrupting the trading vessels coming from Phaselis and Phoenicia, and the mainland areas nearby ( 2.69.1). Melesander decided to make an expedition inland to Lycia with his crew and died in the battle. Presumably they battled the pirates mentioned in the previous line, although the text is not explicit. Many men died along with Melesander and the operation was a crushing failure. The Athenians authorized this operation with objectives similar to the Atalanta expedition. They wanted to protect an important trade route from being disrupted by pirates and protect tribute-bearing ships from piratical attacks. Davies claims that in the fifth century, “Phaselis was just as much the staging post of Graeco-Levantine trade as Rhodes was to be two centuries later.”14 Secure trade through Phaselis would therefore have been a great boon to the Atheninan Empire, as they were the greatest beneficiaries of Graeco-Levantine trade at the time. Thucydides also states that Melesander’s fleet was supposed to bring back tribute from Asia Minor ( 2.69.1). Pirates threatened not only Athenian trade routes, but also her vital tribute revenue. Both the Atalanta and Lycian operations, however, also had critical strategic military importance to the Periclean policy. Since the Athenians were relying on imported goods and tribute, any threat to those trade routes posed a threat to the Periclean 14 Davies 1984, 284.


41 strategy. Once Athens adopted the Periclean strategy, the suppression of piracy became not only a necessary aspect of maintaining their empire, but also a strategic factor in winning the war. Given the prominence that piracy occupies in the Archaeology and its importance to the Periclean strategy, one would expect the Athenians might have placed a greater emphasis on the suppression of piracy throughout the war. In the first two years of the war, Athens planned two concerted operations for combating piracy. In all subsequent years of war, however, Athens executed only one more reported counter-piracy operation, and it was a part of Nicias’ larger strategy of besieging Megara.15 The Spartan coalition conversely had no reported operations for combating piracy. Did the dearth of counter-piracy operations in the history occur because of omission by Thucydides? Or did the two sides just ignore the issue? It seems hard to believe, given how much attention combating piracy received in the Archaeology and his general thoroughness of describing operations, that Thucydides would have simply omitted mentions of such operations during the war. Depleted Athenian resources might provide one explanation for the cessation of counterpiracy missions. Throughout the Archaeology, Thucydides stresses that the strength of an empire depends on sea power and a surplus ( ). At the start of the war Athens possesses both of these things. By 424, the Athenians’ financial reserves and revenues rapidly began dropping.16 Her dwindling reserve made it increasingly harder to maintain a full navy for strategic operations against Sparta, much less extra ships for combating piracy. Moreover, the failure of Melesander’s Asian operation in 430 could possibly have discouraged the Athenians from 15 Thuc. 3.51.2; In the summer of 427, Nicias constructe d a base on the island of Minoa opposite Megara for the purpose of blockading the Megaran port. Thucydides states that a secondary objective of the fort was for preventing Peloponnesian pirates from making raids in the area. 16 Kallet-Marx 1993, 202-203, points to 424 as the beginning of a sharp decline in Athenian financial resources. The sieges of Poteidaia and Mytilene cost large sums of mone y. Additionally, Athens had lost the tribute revenues from Amphipolis and other Thracian cities. Yet, Kallet-Marx, 203, clearly notes that at no point during the Archidamian War did Athens’ reserve reach “a dangerous low.”


42 committing more ships and resources to future counter-piracy operations. As the war dragged on, Athens was losing its surplus. The allocation of substantial military and financial resources towards fighting pirates, who could strike at anytime from almost anywhere, likely seemed an unwise and unsustainable policy. There is additional evidence that Athens encouraged private methods for combating piracy outside of officially sanctioned military operations. MacDonald claims that the inscription IG I2 42 reveals that individuals involved in fighting pirates might receive a special tax exemption from the The fragment states, “all were liable to pay the except those engaged in the capture of .”17 The dating of the fragment is debated, but it either dates sometime in the second half of the fourth century before 438 or to the period following 428, when Thucydides states the was ‘first’ introduced (3.19).18 Even if the inscription does date prior to the Peloponnesian War, it still suggests that the Athenians encouraged alternative methods for combating piracy in the period. Just because the Athenians were not actively engaging the pirates with aggressive military operations does not mean they were not concerned with fighting piracy. The development of a theory involving the suppression of piracy in the Archaeology and the description of several counter-piracy operations executed by Athens during the war reveal that Thucydides appreciated the importance of combating piracy. The infrequency of full-scale counter-piracy missions, however, does not mean that Thucydides or the Athenians thought 17 MacDonald 1984, 83. 18 The debate hinges on how to read Thuc ydides 3.19. Did the Athenians have the as a method of taxation prior to 428? Although Hornblower 1991, 404, asserts th at Griffith 1977 has proven conclusively that the of 428 was not the first based on the dating of the Kallia s decrees, more recently Kallet-Marx 1993 has argued in favor of 428 as the first instance based on the syntax of Thucydides’ phrasing and questioning the dating of the Kallias decrees. For the dating of IG I2 42, Mattingly 1968 follows the dating of sometime after 428 based on Thucydides, whereas Meiggs 1966 favors a dating of sometime before 438 based on the Kallias decrees and a tailed rho in the inscription.


43 combating piracy unimportant or unnecessary. PiracyÂ’s detrimental effect on the Periclean strategy alone suggests against such a conclusion. The Athenians likely evaluated that the expenses of launching aggressive military operations against pirates were not cost-effective, especially at the same time as fighting a full-fledged war against Sparta. As Bahar expressed in his strategic theory of optimal deterrence, combating piracy can involve complex strategy and careful use of force. Athens may have employed other methods for combating piracy, including tax relief for individual pirate hunters. As the next chapter will show, however, both the Athenians and the Spartans increasingly began to incorporate offensive piratical attacks as part of their own strategies. Instead of attempting to suppress piracy by launching major military campaigns, they redirected the focus of piratical attacks against their enemies. In this way, they could save the resources involved in a full-blown battle or military campaign, and at the same time could eliminate some of their own susceptibility to pirate attacks by turning potentially hostile pirates against their opponent.


44 CHAPTER 4 STRATEGIC ADVANTAGES OF OFFENSIVE PIRATICAL ATTACKS As the Archaeology has shown, Thucydides outlined a direct relationship between the suppression of piracy and state stability. This theoretical correlation proved programmatic as there was evidence for Athenian concern about combating piracy, especially early in the war. Yet, the inverse relationship also proved true. Piratical attacks had the ability to destabilize states that were already powerful. As the progress of the war gradually depleted Athenian and Spartan revenues, the cities abandoned strategies involving the suppression of piracy and began to sponsor their own offensive piratical missions against their enemies. Piracy or guerilla raiding became a tactic for those lacking the resources to launch traditional military expeditions. When Spartan and Athenian allied cities underwent stasis, the exiled parties very often turned to piracy or raiding in order to weaken the city that had exiled them and regain their lost power. The Spartans frequently sponsored naval-based piracy operations against the Athenians or their allies in order to compensate for their own naval deficiencies. The Athenians likewise settled slaves at various sites around the Peloponnese and frequently encouraged them to raid Laconia in order to compensate for their inability to launch their own land expedition against the Spartans. For Thucydides, the use of raiding was not the optimal method of waging war. In the Archaeology, a lack of resources compelled the Mycenaeans to adopt raiding strategies. The Trojan WarÂ’s lack of grandness was not caused by a lack of manpower, but by a lack of resources ( 1.11.1). Therefore, when the Mycenaeans landed at Troy, they were forced continuously to go on raiding missions because of their shortage of supplies ( 1.11.1). Thucydides blamed the MycenaeansÂ’ inability to win a decisive battle against the Trojans on this compulsory raiding. Because raiding operations always carried some of the Mycenaean troops away from camp, they never could commit their full force to any


45 engagement. Therefore Thucydides posits, “if they came with an abundance of supplies and as a full company without raiding operations…they would have destroyed Troy with less difficulty” ( … 1.11.2). Hornblower claims that this chapter is “sheer guesswork” on Thucydides’ part, and Gomme argues that Thucydides “rationalizes the whole story.”1 Consequently, Thucydides must be arguing based solely on his conception that deficiencies of resources necessarily drove people to adopt piracy. Offensive piratical or raiding operations therefore reflect insufficiencies in resources of the side sponsoring them. Resources spent on promoting or carrying out raiding maneuvers divert assets away from other strategic areas. The necessity of reverting to guerilla tactics also betrays a potential inability to win a decisive traditional battle. This model fits not only the behavior for armies operating with insufficient resources, but also for individual pirates or privateers. Poverty drove the pirates to a raiding lifestyle, as their only method of obtaining a decent living.2 Somalia is one of the poorest countries in the modern world. Nearly one-third of the country depends on international food aid and it is the “scene of arguably Africa’s worst humanitarian crisis.”3 It is no wonder that piracy thrives under such conditions. Daybad, the pseudonym of the Somali pirate who negotiated the ransom demands for the Sirius Star, cited the poverty of local Somali fishing operations as the impetus for their turn to piracy: “Our fish were all eradicated so... we're 1 Hornblower 1991, 36; Gomme 1945, 114. 2 The poverty of Peloponnesian War-era pirates is eviden ced by the pirate equipment requisitioned by Demosthenes for use in the occupation and defense of Pylos. Thucydide s states that the defenders of the position were given shields from a Messenian pirate ship. He describes the shields as “poor-quality” and “made of wicker” ( [ ] 4.9.1). 3 BBC News: Africa, 2009. “Country profile: So malia,” British Broadcasting Corporation, country_profiles/1072592.stm#facts (accessed February 17, 2009).


46 going to fish whatever passes through our sea.”4 This chapter, however, will examine ways in which lack of resources compelled groups to adopt piratical tactics during the course of the Peloponnesian War and how the tactic of piratical raiding became a frequently employed strategy to destabilize an enemy state. Political parties exiled from their cities and made politically powerless turned to piracy in order to return their power or punish those who exiled them. The Athenians frequently encouraged land raids on enemy territories since most of the time they were unable to disrupt the Spartans by land in a pitched battle. Finally, the Spartans sponsored nautical pirate attacks on Athenian merchant vessels in order to compensate for their naval weakness and inflexibility. First the Athenians and then the Spartans came to use sponsored raiding tactics as a part of a strategy to promote stasis in targeted cities. Stasis-Driven Piratical Attacks From the beginning of the war, parties exiled because of political conflict within a citystate often turned to piracy or raiding in order to regain lost power. Thucydides describes four cities where this pattern repeated itself: Epidamnus, Corcyra, Mytilene, and Megara. In each case, the political parties were aristocratic members exiled by democratic contingents.5 Finding themselves powerless, they adopted piratical raiding tactics in order to disrupt their former cities. In most cases, their goal seems to have been to weaken their former cities with constant banditry until it became unstable enough for them to regain their lost power. Their piracy, however, also instilled fear in the populace of the cities and often led to some sort of political change or new policies. 4 BBC News: Africa, 2008. “Pirate sa ys Sirius Star crew safe,” British Broadcasting Corporation, (accessed March 5, 2009). 5 With one possible exception. See the discussion on Megara below.


47 Piratical raids against Epidamnus by its exiled party in 435 were one of the causes that eventually led to the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War (1.24). Just before the war, the democratic party drove out the oligarchic party. The oligarchs then joined up with foreigners and began to make pirate raids against the city by sea and land ( 1.24.5). The pressure from these raids caused Epidamnus to ask for aid from Corcyra and subsequently from Corinth. This action, of course, fomented the conflict between Corcyra and Corinth, which prompted the Athenians to side with Corcyra and brought Athens and Corinth back into conflict. Despite the exiles’ inability to regain their lost power, piracy provided them a method to continue to influence the affairs of the city. Corcyra later faced its own problem with stasis-driven piracy in 427. In fact, Thucydides stated that Corcyra was the first example of a city-state falling into stasis that caused the destruction of law and order (3.84). Furthermore, “an entire degradation of character came about in the Greek world” ( 3.83.1) because of the stasis in states like Corcyra. What was the immediate consequence of the Corcyraean civil strife and this degradation of which Thucydides writes? The five hundred exiled citizens from Corcyra began making pirate raids from the mainland against the island (3.85.2). These areas directly across the straits from cities were extremely valuable economically because they could easily harass nautical trading.6 Consequently, the exiles-turned-pirates attacked merchant shipments carrying food to the island and even caused a serious famine in the city ( 3.85.2). Even though their piratical attacks caused obvious strain on Corcyra, the exiles decided this was not the optimal way to wage war and regain their 6 Hornblower 1991, 490.


48 power. So, after their envoys to Sparta and Corinth failed to obtain aid, they hired mercenaries and launched a full invasion force on the island with 600 men (3.85.3). They even burned their ships behind them in order to bind themselves to the plan. Eventually, however, they wound up fortifying Mount Istone and began attacking those in the city and controlling the land from there ( 3.85.3). When the exiles burned their ships, it clearly demonstrated their desire to abandon their nautical-based piracy. Yet, two years later in 425, the exiles were still launching raids from the mountain ( 4.2.3), apparently unable to commit to a pitched battle or capture the city with their current supply levels. At this point, the Peloponnesians eventually decided to send help in the form of sixty ships, because they saw how the exilesÂ’ raiding had caused famine and weakened the city, leaving it vulnerable (4.2.3). Whether the political exiles had intended to attempt an attack upon the city when they burned their ships in 427 and realized they lacked the supplies for such an operation, or whether they were intending to establish Mount Istone as more efficient raiding base remains unclear from ThucydidesÂ’ descriptions. What is clear, however, is that the piratical raids by the Corcyraeans destabilized the city enough that the extra Peloponnesian force could have conquered it, had Demosthenes not caused a distraction with his maneuvers at Pylos. Piracy served as a method for the exiles to keep some form of military pressure on their objective until they could acquire sufficient resources for a traditional siege or battle. The strategy was useful, but not optimal. A year later in 424, the exiled party from Mytilene adopted a similar tactic of making piratical raids on their homeland of Lesbos (4.52). They captured Antandrus and then planned to use it as base for further expeditions in the area. The proximity of Antandrus to Lesbos made it ideal for launching piratical operations against the island. Moreover, Antandrus proved to be an


49 excellent location for a pirate base because it had an abundance of timber and other ship building resources at hand ( 4.52.3). Just like the parties from Epidaurus and Corcyra, the MytileniansÂ’ exile compelled them to take up piracy as their only method for regaining lost power. The same year, Megara faced a similar problem when its own political exiles7 began launching pirate raids against the city from nearby Pegae ( 4.66.1). Again, refugees from Megara turned to piracy as their method for regaining power. This time their raiding caused the people8 in power in the city to decide to negotiate with the Athenians and come to a settlement. Because the Athenians had been attacking Megara regularly, they wanted to avoid having to defend against both the Athenians and the exiled raiders at the same time. The Megarians in charge viewed it as a safer option to deal with their wartime enemies, the Athenians, than to readmit the exiles-turnedbandits ( 4.66.3). Thucydides also describes their emotional state when making this decision: they were afraid ( 4.66.3). The fear seems to arise from the reaction of the people to all the misfortunes they had suffered because of the raiding and 7 The lack of any background information on this previous civil war in Megara has created some debate. Legon 1968 thinks that 4.66 either prematurely anticipates the stasis of 4.68 or Thucydides has invented this reference to any previous factional conflict. Hornblower 1996 refutes this assertion and claims that the knowledge of classical Megarian politics outside of Thucydides is too paltry to su ggest he is inventing things. It is hard to accuse Thucydides of inventing political situations without any ev idence contrary to his narration. Clearly some sort of factional conflict had occurred earlier. The subsequent stas is must have broken out between the remnants of feuding groups still left in the city after this first conflict. 8 Gomme 1956b, 528, suggests that implies that Megara was a de mocracy at the time. De Ste Croix 1972, on the other hand, claims that the probouloi of Megara mentioned in Ar. Ach. 755 suggest an oligarchic constitution at the time. Hornblower 1996 favors Go mmeÂ’s conclusion based on the dubiousness of using Aristophanes as an authority on the Megarian constituti on and on the inflexible position that the existence of probouloi necessitated an oligarchic constitution.


50 Athenian attacks ( 4.66.3). Just as Thucydides described the Corcyraean stasis-driven piracy as a degradation of morality, the effects of the Megarian stasis-driven banditry brought about such a fear that they preferred to strike a deal with their war enemies rather than allow their former citizens back into the city. Piracy not only had the power to provide a means of military redress for powerless exiles, but it also contained the potential to instill fear into those attacked. This fear, as in the Megarian case, often turned out to be more powerful than the material effects of raids. Athenian Sponsored Piratical Attacks Although the Athenians began the war viewing naval piracy as a threat to their Periclean strategy, they soon realized the potential advantages of incorporating land-based bandit raiding into their strategy. The Athenians feared a decisive land battle with the Spartans since a loss there would severely limit their operational flexibility and hurt morale.9 They needed some way, though, to harass the Spartan mainland in Laconia to hinder the Spartans from launch campaigns wherever they wanted. Pressure on the Spartan lands also increased the risk for a widespread helot rebellion. The Athenians found the solution to this problem in the form of bandit raiding from their newly won base at Pylos. The strategy became so influential that Thucydides identifies it as one of the major causes for the Spartans agreeing to the Peace of Nicias (5.14). The Athenians subsequently applied this tactic to other strategic locations besides Pylos. Offensive piratical tactics had become an integral part of the overall Athenian military strategy. One of the reasons for the Athenian successes from bandit or guerilla raids likely came from SpartaÂ’s unfamiliarity with such warfare. When the Athenians first began to launch such 9 Kagan 1974.


51 attacks from Pylos in 425, Thucydides states, “the Spartans were inexperienced before this time with bandit raiding and this type of warfare” ( 4.41.3). The Athenians gained further success because they chose to establish Messenians from Naupactus at Pylos as the raiders carrying out the operations.10 The Naupactians were able to inflict extra damage with their raids because they spoke the same dialect as the native Messenians ( 4.41.2). These “guerilla raids” therefore were much more complex operations than simple looting expeditions. They involved possible subterfuge and some type of communication with the local Messenians and helot slaves. Most likely this communication involved encouraging the helots to desert Laconia, since the Spartans began to grow more fearful of an all out revolution because of these bandit raids from Pylos ( 4.41.3). Gomme states that “in spite of this testimony, the occupation of Pylos, for nearly fifteen years, seems to have had less effect on the helots and so on the whole of Spartan life than might have been expected,” yet provides no further rationale for this doubt.11 Perhaps Gomme’s conclusion comes from the fact that Thucydides provides no explicit accounts of mass helot flights or revolutions. On the contrary, there is much evidence in Thucydides that the strategy actually was very effective. First, Thucydides’ own attitude toward encouraging slave revolt offers evidence as to why one cannot find explicit details of Pylos’ effectiveness. Hunt claims, “Thucydides’ reluctance to dwell upon the incitement of slave revolts intersects with and reinforces explanations linking Pylos to riskier, un-Periclean war strategies and their 10 Around 455, the Athenians had settled the Messenian rebels from Mt. Ithone at Naupactus, which they had just captured from the Ozolian Locrians (1.103). 11 Gomme 1956b, 481.


52 proponents.”12 A policy of encouraging slave revolt through piracy made Thucydides nervous, and so he felt no strong impetus to record too many details, especially about its potential success.13 Second, Pylos was such a success that the Athenians decided to set up additional bases in Laconia. They continued the strategy at Pylos in two other strategic locations. The Athenians established the first of these new bases for raiders and fugitive helots on the island of Cythera in 425. Before the invasion, Cythera had been an important port for Spartan trade routes from Egypt and Libya, but it also functioned as a anti-piracy base protecting Laconia from pirates operating in the Sicilian and Cretan seas ( 4.53.3). When the Athenians conquered Cythera, it removed a prominent counter-piracy base to protect the Laconian coastlines.14 The raiding from both Pylos and Cythera continued for three years. Thus, when the Spartans agree to ratify the Peace of Nicias in the winter of 422-21, Thucydides cites piratical raiding from the two bases as one of their main motivations ( 5.14.3).15 Despite the lack of detail from Thucydides about these bandit raids from Pylos and Cythera, they obviously had a significant impact on the course of the war. 12 Hunt 1998, 75. 13 As Hunt 1998, 73, states, “Thucydides is a deliber ate writer and his omissions are not unmotivated”. 14 Gomme 1956b, 508, notes that the long exposed coastline of Laconia would have left it particularly exposed to raiding had Cythera not been there for protection. 15 Gomme 1956b, 658, persists in his interpretation that the Pylos raiding strategy remained ineffective, although he acknowledges 5.14.3 “certainly says that helot desertions pl ayed a considerable part in determining Spartan policy”. As Hornblower 1996, 460, observes this passage is “recapitu latory in thought and expression,” thus reinforcing the importance of the raiding strategy to Thucydides’ percep tion of the war. Hornblower’s observation, Sparta’s ratification of the Peace of Nicias, and the reuse of Pylos’ strategy in later operations prove Pylos was an effective strategy, in contrast to Gomme’s conclusion.


53 The Athenian strategy for their assault on Delium in 424 followed the same strategic objectives as Pylos and Cythera. The Athenians planned to fortify the temple at Delium and begin launching guerilla raids from the fort against the cities of Boeotia in hopes of destabilizing them: , (4.76.5) “If the operation went well and Delium was fortified, even if some immediate revolution of the Boeotian governments was not occurring, [the Athenians] were expecting easily that by occupying these lands, launching guerilla raids on the land, and providing a quick refuge place for those [refugees], the current affairs in the place would not last long.” The Athenians recognized that the seizure of Delium alone could not produce immediate revolutions in Boeotian cities; subsequent guerilla raiding would play this pivotal role in the strategy. The constant pressure of banditry would have weakened the anti-Athenian elements in Boeotia and pro-Athenian parties could take advantage of the instability to take power. The fort at Delium also would have served as an easy refuge for those fleeing Boeotia, presumably slaves, in a situation similar to what happened with the helots in Messenia.16 Even after the Peace of Nicias the Athenians continued sponsoring bandit raids from Pylos. Two years later in the winter of 419-18, the Athenians decided that the Spartans had broken their oaths established in the treaty because a Spartan garrison had broken their naval blockade and Argos was provoking them to resume harassing Sparta. Alcibiades had a stele erected that stated such ( 4.56.3). The first action they took after declaring the 16 Gomme 1956b, however, provides a scho liast’s emendation of the line to: If this were the proper reading of the line, instead of Delium providing refuge for fugitive Boeotian slaves, it would provide a base for Athenian raiders to hide in after completing their missions. Either way, the goal of the operation was to provi de a base for raiding operations that would destabilize Boeotia in some way.


54 Spartans in violation of their oaths was to send more helots to Pylos in order to begin raiding again ( 4.56.3). The discretion provided by raiding tactics allowed Athens to renew hostilities against Sparta with the benefit of diverting blame for such attacks away from Athens. The fact that Alcibiades erected the stele blaming the Spartans for breaking the treaty first, however, suggests that the Athenians viewed their sponsored raids as a breach of the treaty. Thucydides reinforces this point of view when he mentions that the most obvious breach of the Peace of Nicias came when the Athenians sent thirty ships with generals to the aid of the Argives 414 (6.105). He contrasts this action with their previous acts of encouraging raids from Pylos and other places in the Peloponnese ( 6.105.2). The Spartans also interpreted the continuous guerilla raids during the Peace of Nicias as deliberate breaches of the treaty. When the Spartans decided to invade Attica in 413, they claimed that the Athenians were at fault for breaking their oaths first by sending constant raids from Pylos ( 7.18.3). The Athenian capture of a temple in Laconia in 413 employed the same strategy of creating instability through pirate raiding (7.26). The Athenians captured an isthmus in Laconia directly across from Cythera. The Athenians fortified a temple there, just as at Delium. Thucydides describes their strategy behind the fortification: “They fortified a certain isthmus at the place so that the helots of the Spartans could escape to there and so that pirates could continuously make plundering raids from there, just as from Pylos” ( , 7.26.2). Dover notes that the area lies in the opposite direction of Pylos and thus would have made Spartan attempts to intercept fugitive slaves twice


55 as difficult.17 Again the same elements of the strategy are present. The base served as a place for slaves to desert and as a point for pirates or bandits to launch raids against the Laconian countryside. This attack also came at a point when AthensÂ’ power and financial resources were declining seriously.18 The guerilla raiding strategy likely afforded Athens a cost-effective method of attacking in the face of dwindling resources. It required only a minimal initial commitment of possessing and fortifying an unprotected temple. After this it demanded no further defense because bandits and slaves (or slaves-turned bandits)19 rather than Athenian troops would occupy it. A final instance of the Athenian guerilla strategy occurred when Athens invaded Chios in 411 (8.40). Chios possessed the second largest number of slaves20 during the Peloponnesian War, fewer than only Sparta ( 8.40.2). The Chians additionally inflicted particularly harsh abuse on their slaves ( 8.40.2). So, when the Athenians landed on Chios, the large number of slaves on the island immediately deserted and joined up with them ( 8.40.2). Just like their previous operations, the Athenians fortified a location that encouraged the desertion of slaves. The Athenians then used the fugitive slavesÂ’ intimate knowledge of the Chian land to 17 Gomme et al. 1970, 400. 18 The subsequent chapter (7.27), which will be discusse d further in the following section on Spartan sponsored piracy, describes how the Spartan occupation of Decelea serv ed as a similar launching point for bandit raids against Attica. Thucydides identifies these raids as one of the chie f causes for the decline of Athenian power and increased financial difficulty. 19 That fugitive slaves commonly became bandits themselves see AristophanesÂ’ Acharnians where Lamachus comes into conflict with runaway slaves who had become bandits. 20 Gomme et al. 1981, 86-87, argue that this refers to the density of the slave population ra ther than total numbers, as Chios could not have had more slaves than there were in Attica.


56 inflict more damage when launching guerilla raids ( 8.40.2). This strategy caused so much devastation against the Chians that it forced them to ask for aid from Astyochus to prevent further destruction from bandit raiding ( 8.40.1). These Athenian offensive operations all demonstrated the same ability for bandit raiding to cause instability in governments that the stasis-driven piracy had shown. As Thucydides wrote in the passage about the Corcyraean stasis: “When war, as a violent teacher, takes away the daily means of providing, it makes most people also deal with the present conditions” ( 3.82.2). The Athenian strategy that developed during the war followed a familiar structure based on this principle. The Athenians captured a seemingly useless base for fighting pitched battles, but made use of it in two different ways: first, as a base of operations for raiders, and second, as a refuge for fugitive slaves. These raiders, supported by the Athenians, made continuous raids against the countryside and seized their targets’ agricultural and financial resources. The effectiveness of Naupactian raiders and the eagerness of Chian slaves further showcases the important role of slaves in many of the guerilla raids. The Naupactians’ ability to speak the native dialects of local helots increased the effectiveness of the raids probably by encouraging more helots to desert. The Chian mistreatment of the slaves provided favorable conditions for the quick desertion of their slaves. Not only did these fugitive slaves’ intimate knowledge of the land provide a greater ability to cause damage, but their desertions under such raids caused further instability in their societies by removing pivotal sources of labor. Athens frequently employed the guerilla-raiding tactic after Pylos, attesting to its perceived value as a strategy both in success and in cost-effectiveness. Sponsored guerilla raiding had become a


57 legitimate military strategy for the Athenians, even if Thucydides himself had not fully accepted it. Spartan Sponsored Piratical Attacks Like Athens, Sparta came to rely on offensive piratical tactics as a critical part of their military strategy. Early on in the war, Sparta lacked the navy to challenge Athens in any kind of traditional way. In order to overcome this naval handicap, the Spartans seem to have sponsored at least several pirate missions either to disrupt Athenian trade routes or military operations. After suffering first-hand from the effects of Athenian-sponsored banditry, Sparta also began setting up her own land-based bandit raiding operations in Attica that crippled Athenian financial resources. From the outbreak of the war, Sparta sought to offset her naval weakness by supporting piracy that disrupted Athenian naval interests. The first reported incident of Spartan-sponsored piracy occurred after the second year of the war in the winter of 430-29 (2.69). These were the same pirates against which the Athenians launched their second anti-piracy mission under Melesander. A group of pirates that Thucydides simply calls Peloponnesians ( 2.69.1) had been harassing the merchant shipping routes from Phaselis and Phoenicia along the coast of Asia Minor ( 2.69.1). While the identities of these pirates remain ambiguous, it seems clear that Sparta or the Peloponnesian coalition must have supported them in some way. 21 If they were simply independent pirates, then why were Peloponnesians establishing raiding bases all the way in Asia, right along Athenian trade routes? And who else 21 Hornblower 1991, 355.


58 would send a group of Peloponnesian privateers to disrupt Athenian interests except the Spartans? Two years later in 427, the Spartans sponsored similar pirate attacks from Megara. Nicias had decided to fortify the island of Minoa across in order to blockade Megara's port and stop the Peloponnesian pirates from operating in the area ( 3.51.2). In this case, Thucydides does not provide any information about the piratesÂ’ targets. He later, however, describes a small group of Megarians who set up a fake pirate raid, as part of a plot to betray the city to the Athenians in 424. When the Megarians prepare their fake raid, they decide to use a light sculling boat ( 4.67.3). The seems to have been a quick, short-range boat.22 In order to avoid suspicion, the Megarians acting as pirates wanted to behave as similarly to an actual pirate as possible. Therefore, it seems likely that most of the pirates operating out of Megara would have conducted their operations in boats similar to the They must have operated within a range close enough to make it out and back to the city in one night. MegaraÂ’s close proximity to Attica, however, makes it a favorable location for the disruption of Athenian shipping lanes through the straits of Salamis and military maneuvers against Megara or the isthmus. After experiencing first-hand the devastation caused by Athenian sponsored land-based bandit raids, Sparta began promoting her own in Attica. Following the Athenian actions at Melos in 416, the Spartans made a declaration encouraging bandit raids on the Attic countryside. The policy came in direct response to the damage that Athenian-sponsored guerilla raids had done in the years following the Peace of Nicias ( 5.115.2). These bandit attacks from Pylos obviously caused Sparta great trouble, 22 The is also used by a Corcyraean herald on a short-range envoy mission (1.29). Gomme 1956b, 530, suggests that a scholiast added a note that the was made for privateering, driven by only a few rowers.


59 but at this point they had not yet decided to declare war officially again. Instead the Spartans made a proclamation that if anyone wanted to, they could make their own bandit raids against the Athenians ( 5.115.2). Although Sparta had not yet established any guerilla bases for themselves, this decree showed that they acknowledged the effectiveness of raiding as a military strategy and their willingness to use it in the future. The Spartans further developed their raiding strategy in 413 when they captured and fortified the site of Decelea (7.19). Alcibiades had first suggested to the Spartans in 415 the strategy of occupying Decelea and setting it up as a bandit outpost. He claimed that such a tactic was what the Athenians feared the most ( 6.91.6). He laid out the benefits of a guerilla base at Decelea as such: first, he claimed that the Spartans would gain much of the property in the area without having to commit any action of their own ( 6.91.7); second, that Athens would be deprived of their revenues from the silver mines at Larium and whatever revenues they now get from the land and law courts ( 6.91.7). Alcibiades’ plan for the Spartans closely mirrored the strategy that they Athenians had employed at Pylos and the other places. The sponsored bandits stationed at Decelea would bring in plunder from the Attican lands and at the same time continually rob the Athenians of many sources of income. Two years later the Spartans seized Decelea, and guerilla raids from there caused the serious damage to Athenian revenues that Alcibiades had predicted. Thucydides identified it as “one of the chief causes of the present decline in Athenian power because of both the destruction


60 of revenues and the loss of men” ( 7.27.3). The reason for the strategy’s effectiveness was that a Spartan military presence was now positioned in Attica continuously ( 7.27.4). The bandits positioned there also were continuously making guerilla raids against the land, ( 7.27.4). These raids deprived the Athenians of the harvests of all their land ( 7.27.5) and additionally they were robbed of all their sheep and beasts of burden ( 7.27.5). Just like the Athenian strategy at Pylos, Spartan presence at Decelea caused the mass desertion of 20,000 slaves,23 many of whom were apparently skilled workmen ( 7.27.5). Whether or not twenty thousand slaves actually ran away from Athens the summer of 413, it is clear that Spartan strategy involved encouraging slave desertion through raiding tactics and a significant number actually did flee. The guerilla presence at Decelea in 413 absolutely devastated Athenian finances. In addition to their harvest, animal, and labor force losses, the operation of some of their trade routes became more expensive. The shipping lanes that passed by Euboea had to be rerouted at great expense around Sounion, the southern tip of Attica, because the base at Decelea now cut off the overland route from Euboea to Athens ( 23 The figure 20,000 slaves brings up inte resting questions about the composition of chapters 7.27-28. It seems highly unlikely that after the occupation of Decelea, a ma ssive 20,000 slaves immediatel y fled. Gomme et al. 1970, 402, however, think that either Thuc ydides meant 20,000 slaves ran away i mmediately or that the 20,000 figure comes from Thucydides composing this passage many years la ter. Perhaps by the end of the war the total number of slaves that fled was 20,000. Gomme et al. find nothing historically objectiona ble about 20,000 slaves fleeing in one summer from Attica, but they also acknowledge that the pluperfect could be in reference to the state of affairs as a whole, looking back from a later period.


61 7.28.1). Athens had established their first anti-piracy base of the war at Atalanta to protect these very shipping lanes. All that Athens consumed now had to be imported by sea ( 7.28.1). Moreover, Athens had another pesky financial burden on its hands at the time, the Sicilian Expedition. The destruction caused by the raids from Decelea and these other heavy expenses left the Athenians financially powerless ( 7.28.4). Because of this financial collapse, they decided to impose a five-percent tax on their subjects on nautical exports and imports, thinking this would bring them in more revenue ( 7.28.4). The impact of the Spartan raiding base at Decelea deeply affected the revenues and subsequent financial policies of the Athenians. They had gotten a taste of their own strategy from Pylos. When the Athenians adopted the Periclean strategy and refused to fight Sparta in a pitched land battle during her first invasion into Attica, the Spartans needed to find new tactics to counter this policy. Disrupting AthensÂ’ naval supply lines was one method. Yet since Sparta did not possess a strong enough navy to challenge Athenian sea supremacy, they had to rely on privateering to interfere with the shipping. The Spartans, however, put brigandage tactics to the best use when they established their bandit fort at Decelea. By employing the strategy which was suggested by Alcibiades and was similar to the Athenian strategy at Pylos, the Spartans devastated AthensÂ’ financial revenues. Athens became completely dependent upon imports for everything, and these imports were now even more expensive because of the trade detours caused by Decelea. If the parties exiled by stasis or Athenian sponsored guerilla raids had not yet


62 proven it, Decelea clearly demonstrated the devastating impact that the offensive military use of piracy and banditry had.


63 CHAPTER 5 CONCLUSION In October 2008, when the manifest of the hijacked Ukrainian MV Faina freight ship was made public, it exposed the potential for those with political interests to exploit modern piracy. The freight manifest suggested that the tanks and other arms on board the MV Faina ultimately were bound for the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM). The SPLM is the de facto government of Southern Sudan. They had been in civil war against the National Congress Party (NCP) operating out of Khartoum from 1983 until 2004. In 2004, the two sides reached a peace agreement and the SPLM were granted semi-autonomy in the southern region until 2011, when they will hold a referendum to determine how the governments will be organized for the future. The BBC reports that the SPLM had the tanks and weapons imported on the MV Faina to build up their arms cache in preparation for potential conflict after the 2011 referendum. The article quotes an anonymous SPLM source who echoes Vegetius’ famous sentiment: “If you want peace you have to prepare for war.”1 Although any arms buildup by the Southern Sudanese constitutes a violation of the UN weapons embargo against Sudan, the NCP would have been hesitant to report such activity because of its own illegal action in Darfur. Piracy, therefore, provided one avenue for hindering SPLM military growth without drawing too much attention to the NCP’s own actions. Burnett supports this line of thinking as well. One of his main warnings is that modern piracy is extremely susceptible to exploitation by politically motivated terrorists. He fears terrorists could easily hire pirates to hijack a large oil tanker and crash it in a critical shipping lane, such as the Malaccan Straits, thereby creating an international economic crisis.2 1 Henshaw, A. 2008. “Pirates reveal Sudan’s pr ecarious peace,” British Br oadcasting Corporation, (accessed February 17, 2009). 2 Burnett 2002.


64 Jane’s Terrorism and Security Monitor has reported that militant Islamists have already been offering pirates bases of operation in return for help smuggling weapons and supplies.3 These threats from modern piracy illuminate some of the potential advantages that statesponsored piracy also might have provided the Spartans and Athenians during the Peloponnesian War. Piratical attacks have the benefits of operating with discretion, flexibility, and at lower costs than a full-blown military operation. The pirates operating off the coast of Somalia are virtually undetectable until they decide to attack. The boats they use are small crafts, indiscernible from local fishing or trading boats. The pirates themselves are simply members of the local community, and only become identifiable as pirates after they have attacked a ship. Their discretion makes preventing their attacks much more difficult. Discretion also aids the states that might sponsor pirate raiding. The anonymity of pirates and their guerilla tactics make it more difficult to trace responsibility for any attack back to the sponsor. Modern pirates also have the flexibility to dictate always the time and place of their attack on their own terms. Burnett describes how Indonesian pirates would shadow his oil carrier in its radar blind spot for a few minutes in order to assess their target. When they perceived that the crew had detected them and the ship would not provide easy prey, they pulled out of their pursuit and became simple fishing vessels once more.4 Because of the small size of a pirate unit, they have far more flexibility to strike at the optimal moment. This flexibility also aids any sponsors. The sponsors can develop innovative strategies that take advantage of the pirates’ flexibility. The small number of pirates additionally means that such raids are more cost-effective for those sponsoring them. First, any group supporting the pirates could include the booty plundered from the raid as 3 Plaut, M. 2008. “Pirates ‘working with Is lamists’,” British Broadcasting Corporation, (accessed March 5, 2009). 4 Burnett 2002, 264-66.


65 part of their hiring fee. The pirates who captured the MV Faina recently received a ransom of $3.2 million for releasing the ship.5 Second, sponsoring pirate attacks can be cost-effective in other ways besides financially. Any military or diplomatic action Khartoum might have taken against the SPLM’s arms shipment would have cost them significantly in political capital because of their actions in Darfur and the upcoming referendum. Sponsored piracy might have provided an opportunity for them to interfere with the south’s arms buildup, yet not pay for it internationally. The Spartans and Athenians also recognized some of these natural piratical advantages and implemented them offensively during the Peloponnesian War. Sparta especially took advantage of the cost-effectiveness and flexibility of sponsoring piratical attacks. Early in the war, Sparta lacked significant naval forces to oppose the Athenian navy and disrupt Athenian trade routes. Piracy provided them an opportunity to address both of these issues. In 430, Peloponnesian pirates harassed Asian shipping lanes and provoked Athens to dispatch a naval fleet under the general Melesander. This piratical mission countered the Periclean strategy and turned Athenian naval attention from the Peloponnese for a small amount of time, yet it cost Sparta none of her official naval fleet or troops. Moreover, it was the frequency of the Spartansponsored bandit raids from Decelea that made them particularly devastating to Attica. Athens, as well, utilized the tactical and strategic advantages of offensive piracy. Beginning with Pylos in 425, the Athenians established bases all over the Peloponnese from which they launched bandit raids on Spartan territories. These pirate bases allowed the Athenians to apply the same kind of continuous pressure on the Spartan mainland that Sparta had been applying on Attica. The raids also came at a much smaller cost than an infantry expedition would 5 Njeri, J. 2009. “High stakes remain on Soma li high seas,” British Broadcasting Corporation, (accessed February 17, 2009).


66 have. Instead of using precious hoplites, Athens employed relocated Naupactians, fugitive helots, and other bandits to exact the operations. The discretion of these bandit attacks even allowed the Athenians to harass Spartan territory during the Peace of Nicias. Athens could claim she was not violating the treaty, since technically the bandits were attacking Sparta, not a legitimate Athenian force. Thucydides, however, conceptualized piracy as more than just an effective military tactic. He theorized a correlation between piracy and state stabilization. Pirate raiding had the ability to foment stasis in cities. Thucydides provides evidence for this relationship throughout his narrative. Exiled party members pirated their former cities in attempts to create enough instability to allow for their return. Athens’ strategy for occupying Delium depended upon bandits continually raiding Boeotian cities and causing instability that would eventually lead to stasis. Finally, Thucydides observed that the bandit raiding from Decelea was one of the major causes of decline in Athenian power. The inverse relationship between piracy and instability is valid, as well. Not only did piratical raids cause instability, piracy itself was an indicator of a weak state. In the Archaeology, Thucydides set up his reader to expect a correlation between piracy and imperial strength. The suppression of piracy proved a necessary step for archaic cities to acquire power. Therefore, a city susceptible to unchecked pirate attacks could never become a strong one. Shaw’s model for banditry in the Roman Empire supports Thucydides’ theory. The ‘societal gaps’ filled by banditry reveal areas where the empire’s military efforts outstrip its cultural control. Comparative evidence from Golden Age piracy supports this model, as well. Caribbean pirates created their own on-ship democratic institutions because traditional European cultural power did not encompass the entirety of the area it controlled militarily. Modern comparative evidence


67 supports this conclusion too. Pirates thrive today in so-called ‘failed states’, such as Somalia, where the governmental instability provides fertile conditions for the growth of piracy. Piracy was therefore endemic of weak states. Yet, for Thucydides, piracy was more than just a military tactic or an element in a theoretical power equation. The increase in piratical attacks reflected the moral degradation of Greek society. Piratical raids encouraged slaves to revolt, a situation that made Thucydides especially uncomfortable.6 Piracy had the power to instill terror in its victims, which Thucydides describes a number of times. Piracy was intimately tied to civil war because of its ability to cause instability. Piracy produced stasis by depriving citizens of the easy ability to satisfy their everyday needs, thereby driving them to factionalize in order to acquire the limited available power. Exiled factional parties also turned to piracy in order to exact revenge against their fellow citizens. At Athens, raids from Decelea produced unchecked destruction of crops and livestock. Piracy even directly caused a serious famine for the Corcyraeans. Thucydides conceptualized these atrocities as part of a dilapidating moral trend in Greek society because of the Peloponnesian War.7 We can therefore come to two major conclusions about the role of piracy in Thucydides’ history of the Peloponnesian War. First, both the Athenians and Spartans actively promoted piratical raids against their enemy as a pivotal tactic in the strategy of fomenting instability, and even stasis, in enemy cities. Second, when either side was compelled to adopt piracy as an offensive tactic, it not only caused potential destabilization in the enemy city, but it also signified a weakness in the attacking state. It is probably not a coincidence that the Athenians began to implement offensive piratical raiding in 425-24, precisely the time when Athens’ finances first 6 Hunt 1998, 102. 7 On Thucydides’ growing pessimism about morality during the course of the war see Pouncey 1980.


68 sharply declined during the Archidamian War.8 Piracy exposed not only financial weaknesses, but also moral ones. For Thucydides, piracy was a compensatory offensive tactic. It was not the optimal way to wage war. Proper state strength required the suppression of piracy, not the utilization of it. Other Athenians leaders, however, failed to share ThucydidesÂ’ sentiment on this matter. Despite ThucydidesÂ’ reluctance to emphasize the role of piracy in the war, the Athenians and Spartans came to understand its valuable application and constructed strategies at Pylos, Delium, Decelea, and other places around it. Piracy played an integral strategic and tactical role in each of these operations and, indeed, the entirety of the Peloponnesian War. 8 Kallet-Marx 1993, 203.




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74 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Jeffrey Paul Yeakel was born in 1985 in Jacksonville, Florida. He grew up at the beach with a younger sister in Atlantic Beach, Florida. He graduated salutatorian from Fletcher High School in 2003. He earned his B.A. cum laude with honors in classics from Davidson College in 2007. He is currently working to complete his M.A. in philology at the University of Florida.