The famous Roman general Julius Caesar had a big stake in the rise of the Roman Empire. It was his adopted heir Octavian, better known as Augustus, who would take control after his assassination and become the first Roman Emperor in 27 B.C.
A long time before Caesar seized power, the top news story wasn’t about civil war. History could have looked completely different if the events of 75 B.C. went in another direction.
While sailing the Aegean Sea, Caesar was captured by a group of Cilician pirates, horrible people who would kill their own mother for a couple of talents (silver used as currency back then).
The whole idea was to ask for ransom as he was held captive on Pharmacusa, a small Greek Island.
The pirates asked for 20 talents, the equivalent of 620 kilos of silver. They considered this to be a huge amount as they kind of had the idea that they just captured a famous individual.
Caesar was not impressed.
“How dare you only ask 20 talents as ransom,” he roared, “I’m worth at least 50!”
Caesar was kidnapped for 38 days, all the while behaving as if he was the pirate’s superior. He wrote speeches and read them to this bunch of barbarians as if he was the one in charge.
If they didn’t like his speeches, he would call them illiterate idiots straight to their faces.
Being humble wasn’t Caesar’s thing, he always wanted to expand his power, which is the reason he made it his quest to conquer Gaul, one of the toughest places in Europe to invade.
He managed to do just that, even though it took him 8 years.
While at the mercy of the pirates, he often joked that he would capture them and have them crucified. Obviously, the pirates thought he was simply joking around.
After all, who did he think he was?
Their laughter increased when they found out that the ransom they had demanded Caesar’s release was on its way. And not just the 20 talents they had requested initially, the 50 promised by Caesar himself!
If there’s one thing in life that is often true, then it’s that something that looks too good to be true usually is.
Still oblivious to the fact that they just captured a man who would end up destroying the Roman Republic and becoming the “dictator perpetuo,” or “dictator for life,” they seriously overplayed their hand on this one.
The moment Caesar was released, he raised an entire fleet from the harbor of Miletus intending to capture the pirates.
He didn’t have to put in much effort too, because they were anchored on the exact spot they had released Caesar, and soon found themselves hauled off to prison.
The story ends with Julius Caesar keeping his promise. He didn’t just capture the pirates, he got them out of prison and had all of them crucified.
As a token of respect for treating him relatively well during his capture, he had their throats slit first.
Kidnapping Julius Caesar?
That definitely wasn’t the best idea!