When Mithridates first went to war with the Romans
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
others, or captured them by regular siege and plundered 85
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.