When Did Piracy Start in Ancient Greece?

Piracy has been a part of human history for centuries, and it’s no surprise that even the ancient Greeks had their share of pirates. But when exactly did piracy start in ancient Greece?

Historians believe that piracy in ancient Greece began around the 14th century BC, during the Mycenaean era. The Mycenaean civilization was based in the Peloponnese peninsula and was known for its maritime activities. Archaeological evidence shows that the Mycenaeans built ships with rowing oars and sailed throughout the Aegean Sea.

It’s believed that some Mycenaean sailors turned to piracy to supplement their income. They would attack merchant ships from other regions and steal their cargo. This practice continued even after the fall of the Mycenaean civilization in the 11th century BC.

During the Archaic period (8th to 6th centuries BC), piracy became more organized and widespread. The Greek city-states were constantly at war with each other, and pirates took advantage of this chaos to raid coastal towns and pillage their wealth.

The most notorious pirates of this period were the Cilicians, who operated from their base in modern-day Turkey. They were known for their swift ships and brutal tactics, such as kidnapping wealthy citizens for ransom.

In response to this growing threat, many Greek city-states formed alliances to combat piracy. One such alliance was the Delian League, which was led by Athens. The Delian League built a powerful navy that patrolled the waters of the Aegean Sea and hunted down pirates.

Piracy continued to be a problem in ancient Greece even during its golden age (5th century BC). The philosopher Plato wrote about how piracy disrupted trade and commerce in his work “The Republic.”

In conclusion, piracy has been a problem throughout human history, and ancient Greece was no exception. It began during the Mycenaean era and continued to be a threat during the Archaic and Classical periods. Despite efforts by Greek city-states to combat piracy, it remained a problem until the end of the ancient world.