Pompey invested with the Command--The Pirates in the Mediterranean--Distress and Anxiety at Rome--Pompey assigned to Command against the Pirates--His Arrangements for attacking them--Proceeds to Cilicia--Captures and destroys their Strongholds
So it turned out that the Mithridatic war under Lucullus came to no fixed and definite conclusion. The Romans, torn by revolts in Italy and threatened with famine by pirates on the sea, considered it inopportune to undertake another war of this magnitude until their present troubles were ended. When Mithridates perceived this he again invaded Cappadocia and fortified his own kingdom. The Romans overlooked these transactions while they were clearing the sea. When this was accomplished, and while Pompey, the destroyer of the pirates, was still in Asia, the Mithridatic war was at once resumed and the command of it given to Pompey. Since the campaign at sea was a part of the operations under his command, which was begun before his Mithridatic war, and has not found proper mention elsewhere in my history, it seems well to introduce it here and to run over the events as they occurred.
When Mithridates first went to war with the Romans 645 and subdued the province of Asia (Sulla being then in difficulties respecting Greece), he thought that he should not hold the province long, and accordingly plundered it in all sorts of ways, as I have mentioned above, and sent out pirates on the sea. In the beginning they prowled around with a few small boats worrying the inhabitants like robbers. As the war lengthened they became more numerous and navigated larger ships. Relishing their large gains, they did not desist when Mithridates was defeated, made peace, and retired. Having lost both livelihood and country by reason of the war and fallen into extreme destitution, they harvested the sea instead of the land, at first with pinnaces and hemiolii, then with two-bank and three-bank ships, sailing in squadrons under pirate chiefs, who were like generals of an army. They fell upon unfortified towns. They undermined or battered down the walls of 646 others, or captured them by regular siege and plundered 85 647 them. They carried off the wealthier citizens to their haven of refuge and held them for ransom. They scorned the name of robbers and called their takings the prize of warfare. They had artisans chained to their tasks and were continually bringing in materials of timber, brass, and iron. Being elated by their gains and determined not to change their mode of life yet, they likened themselves to kings, rulers, and great armies, and thought that if they should all come together in the same place they would be invincible. They built ships and made all kinds of arms. Their chief seat was at a place called the Crags in Cilicia, which they had chosen as their common anchorage and encampment. They had castles and towers and desert islands and retreats everywhere. They chose for their principal rendezvous the coast of Cilicia where it was rough and harborless and rose in high mountain peaks, for which reason they were all called by the common name of Cilicians. Perhaps this evil had its beginning among the men of the Crags of Cilicia, but thither also men of Syrian, Cyprian, Pamphylian, and Pontic origin and those of almost all the Eastern nations had congregated, who, on account of the long continuance of the Mithridatic war, preferred to do wrong rather than to suffer it, and for this purpose chose the sea instead of the land.
Thus, in a very short time, they increased in number to tens of thousands. They dominated now not only the Eastern waters, but the whole Mediterranean to the Pillars of Hercules. They vanquished some of the Roman prtors in naval engagements, and among others the prtor of Sicily on the Sicilian coast itself. No sea could be navigated in safety, and land remained untilled for want of commercial intercourse. The city of Rome felt this evil most keenly, her subjects being distressed and herself suffering grievously from hunger by reason of her very greatness. It appeared to them to be a great and difficult task to destroy so large a force of seafaring men scattered everywhither on land and sea, and so nimble of flight, sallying out from no particular country or any known places, having no habitation or anything of their own, but only what they might chance to light upon. Thus both the greatness and the unexampled nature of this war, which was subject to no laws and had nothing tangible or visible about it, caused perplexity and fear on all sides. Murena had attacked them, but accomplished nothing worth mention, nor had Servilius Isauricus, who succeeded him. And now the pirates contemptuously assailed the coasts of Italy, around Brundusium and Etruria, and seized and carried off some women of noble families who were travelling, and also two prtors with their very insignia of office.
When the Romans could no longer endure the damage 649 and disgrace they made Gnus Pompey, who was then their man of greatest reputation, commander by law for three years, with absolute power over the whole sea within the Pillars of Hercules, and of the land for a distance of 400 stades from the coast. They sent letters to all kings, rulers, peoples, and cities, that they should aid Pompey in all ways. They gave him power to raise troops and to collect money from the provinces, and they furnished a large army from their own enrolment, and all the ships they had, and money to the amount of 6000 Attic talents, -- so great and difficult did they consider the task of overcoming such great forces, dispersed over so wide a sea, hiding easily in so many nooks, retreating quickly and darting out again unexpectedly. Never did any man before Pompey set forth with so great authority conferred upon him by the Romans. Presently he had an army of 120,000 foot and 4000 horse, and 270 ships, including hemiolii. He had twenty-five assistants of senatorial rank, whom they call lieutenant-generals, among whom he divided the sea, giving ships, cavalry, and infantry to each, and investing them with the insignia of prtors, in order that each one might have absolute authority over the part intrusted to him, while he, Pompey, like a king of kings, should course among them to see that they remained where they were stationed, lest, while he was pursuing the pirates in one place, he should be drawn to something else before his work was finished, and so that there might be forces to encounter them everywhere and to prevent them from forming junctions with each other.
Pompey disposed of the whole in the following manner. He put Tiberius Nero and Manlius Torquatus in command of Spain and the Straits of Hercules. He assigned Marcus Pomponius to the Gallic and Ligurian waters. Africa, Sardinia, Corsica, and the neighboring islands were committed to Lentulus Marcellinus and Publius Atilius, and the coast of Italy itself to Lucius Gellius and Gnus Lentulus. Sicily and the Adriatic as far as Acarnania were assigned to Plotius Varus and Terentius Varro; the Peloponnesus, Attica, Euba, Thessaly, Macedonia, and Botia to Lucius Sisenna; the Greek islands, the whole gean sea, and the Hellespont in addition, to Lucius Lollius; Bithynia, Thrace, the Propontis, and the mouth of the Euxine to Publius Piso; Lycia, Pamphylia, Cyprus, and Phoenicia to Metellus Nepos. Thus were the commands of the prtors arranged for the purpose of attacking, defending, and guarding their respective assignments, so that each might catch the pirates put to flight by others, and not be drawn a long distance from their own stations by the pursuit, nor carried round and round as in a race, and the time for doing the work protracted. Pompey himself made a tour of the whole. He first inspected the western stations, accomplishing the task in forty days, and passing through Rome on his return. Thence he went to Brundusium and, proceeding from this place, he occupied an equal time in visiting the eastern stations. He astonished all by the rapidity of his movement, the magnitude of his preparations, and his formidable reputation, so that the pirates, who had expected to attack him first, or at least to show that the task he had undertaken against them was no easy one, became straightway alarmed, abandoned their assaults upon the towns they were besieging, and fled to their accustomed citadels and inlets. Thus the sea was cleared by Pompey forthwith and without a fight, and the pirates were everywhere subdued by the prtors at their several stations.
Pompey himself hastened to Cilicia with forces of various kinds and many engines, as he expected that there would be need of every kind of fighting and every kind of siege against the rock-bound citadels; but he needed nothing. The terror of his name and the greatness of his preparations had produced a panic among the robbers. They hoped that if they did not resist they might receive lenient 650 treatment. First, those who held Cragus and Anticragus, their largest citadels, surrendered themselves, and after them the mountaineers of Cilicia, and, finally, all, one after another. They gave up at the same time a great quantity of arms, some completed, others in the workshops; also their ships, some still on the stocks, others already afloat; also brass and iron collected for building them, and sailcloth, rope, and various kinds of materials; and finally a multitude of captives either held for ransom or chained to their tasks. Pompey burned the materials, carried away the ships, and sent the captives back to their respective countries. Many of them there found their own cenotaphs, for they were supposed to be dead. Those pirates who had evidently fallen into this way of life not from wickedness, but from poverty consequent upon the war, Pompey settled in Mallus, Adama, and Epiphanea, or any other uninhabited or thinly peopled town in Craggy Cilicia. Some of them he sent to Dyme in Achaia. Thus the war against the pirates, which it was supposed would prove very difficult, was brought to an end by Pompey in a few days. He took seventy-one ships by capture and 306 by surrender from the pirates, and i 20 of their towns, castles, and other places of rendezvous. About 10,000 of the pirates were slain in battles.