ΑΠΟ: mmichalar - Απρ• 19•16

By Despoina Avgoustie

Perhaps one of the most exciting words in both Greek and English is the word “pirate“.

Books and hollywood movies like “Treasure Island” and “Pirates of the Caribbean”, famous captains such as captain Sparrow, Blackbeard or Peter Pan’s eternal enemy, one-armed bandit Hook, have taken young and old on fantastic voyages  to distant waters, defying danger amidst lit cannonballs and flying hooks, discovering maps of buried treasures, becoming stranded on desert islands where pretty mermaids lie on sandy shores at sunrise.

Actually, the only truth about  piracy is the violence and the fear it has scattered since antiquity and unfortunately continues to do so  in some seas.

From very early on, historians have known about the “people of the sea’ and their attacks on Mediterranean coasts. Piracy was a huge hazard for ships until the 1830’s. Crews were of different nationalities and obeyed only their own desire for spoils and their captain. Sometimes they served  kings or sultans as missionaries and did their masters’ dirty work. The most devastating of this, was the looting of coastal communities and the selling of local population into slavery.When the pirates seized royalties or aristocrats they would ask for ransom.

The word “pirate“ comes from the ancient Greek verb “πειράωμαι-πειρμαι’=attempt against an opponent. In mythology Jason“s journey on the Argo and  king Theseus’ adventures with Peirithous are pirates’ accounts. In  the Odyssey, Homer has Odysseus, a hero, brag about the spoils he has gained from his sea voyages.It is logical to suppose that piracy was a brave and heroic action rather than a crime in those times.

In 16th century England, queen Elizabeth delegated the famous Sir Francis Drake to defeat the Spanish armada. The methods which he used made him a hero in England and an outlaw pirate in Spain.

Nowadays, it’s difficult to understand what the reasons were which made people turn to piracy. But it’s very probable that a lot of them would have shared Drake’s view: “It isn’t that life ashore is distasteful to me. But life at sea is better!’.


1. http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=pirate

2. http://www.kidzsearch.com/kzwikisearch.php?q=pirate&aff=1409465098&subid=wiki-for-

3. http://www.kidzsearch.com/wiki/Piracy