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The pirates of Cilicia

Alanya resort is nestled at the very end of the resort coast of Antalya province. Today, nothing reminds of the stormy history of this peaceful resort town Robber land To better understand the events of the past, you should look at the map of the area where they occurred. In our case, we will focus on the coastal areas near the Eastern border of the Turkish province of Antalya. Who has been in those parts, remember that in Belek mountains recede far from the coast, giving way to the lowlands. Not a very comfortable place to live. Only recently, a few decades ago, along the beaches of Belek green pine forests planted by people. Before that, for centuries, there were only swamps and reeds. Further, near side, on the coast, there are convenient for seafarers bays, mountains come closer, and coastal plains become drier and more fertile. The closer to the center of Alanya, the stronger the mountain squeezed the road to the coast. The hotel areas are separated not only by fences, but also by rocky capes that form small bays. The high mountain in Alanya itself is an ideal point of observation for both sea and land. Moreover, the steep slopes make it impregnable. And somewhere there, in the mountains that hang over the coast, hid the Cilician gate – a narrow (in ancient times, its width was only a few meters) gorge. For thousands of years, the Cilician gate was the only place through which it was possible to get by land from the Black sea to the Mediterranean sea. For its mountainous terrain coast near Alanya ancient called Cilicia Trachea (i.e. severe, rocky). And yet, according to ancient historians, it was perfectly adapted for robbery – both on land and at sea. It so happened that Cilicia Trachea for several centuries fell out of the control of various kings and their henchmen. Here was going to the most diverse people – who sailed by sea, who went down mountain trails. But do not think that severe Cilicia was such a refuge for the persecuted or humiliated. In those years, when the wars between the States of the Mediterranean subsided, some people employed in the Navy, remained “unemployed”. Among them were a lot of experienced professionals – from sailors to navarchs, that is, the commanders of the fleets. Everyone who did not find a new job, willingly settled in Cilicia. They formed the core of pirate fleets, which quickly moved from small robberies to real wars. Unprotected city just robbed, took the fortress by siege by all the rules of military art with undermining, battering rams and machines which threw defenders huge rocks or flaming pitch. Hostage-taking has become common. Fortunately, in every seaside town had enough of wealthy nobles. The cilicians returned the prisoners for ransom. This “practice” brought quite a lot of stable income, which allowed not only to exist, but even to live in luxury. Paradoxically, the rogue pseudo-state had a good organization. Carefully maintained combat readiness of the fleet. For this purpose captive craftsmen and craftsmen were brought. As a clockwork mechanism, supplies of ship timber, copper, iron – all that is now called strategic raw materials-were set up. Cilicia fully provided itself with new ships, weapons and supplies. In the Asian coast pirates, built lighthouses, placed base. Robber fleet in the best of times numbered more than a thousand warships. Since the pirates eventually joined a lot of people noble and generally prosperous, they are not going to live in a military camp. We have heard the phrase ancient biographer Plutarch: “of the Fleet, which they sent to sea, was struck not only beautiful on the surface, sailors, but also the art of the helmsman, the speed and ease of the ships, specially designed for “fishing.” Robbers flaunted gilded aft masts, purple curtains and silver-rimmed oars.” Years 150 BC appeared in these parts such a Trifon, a native of the city of Apameia, on the territory of modern Syria. His name – “one who lives luxuriously” – was fully responsible for life-the rules of the man: to dress luxuriously, generously to pour coins. He was noted as a commander, but more – as an intriguer who really wanted to sit on the throne of the Syrian Kingdom. So, Cilician pirates helped Tryphon to get to the cherished throne in his dreams. For support he gave the cilicians the Syrian fleet, and its headquarters arranged in Cilicia. The fortress was called Coracesium, and was on the same mountain, which currently carry tourists to look down upon “Cleopatra’s beach”, the Red tower, and indeed in Alanya. But we must realize that all the existing fortifications have nothing to do with the times of the Cilician pirates. Everything you see is built much later. And at that time the pirates willingly helped Tryphon to turn the rock into an impregnable fortification. And after this character got away from the scene (hunted their enemies in a trap, he committed suicide), practical robbers made Coracesium main base. As Cilicia Rome starved to death Somewhere in the middle of the II century BC Rome was occupied by wars with Carthage and solved other urgent problems, and the pirates of the Romans hands did not reach. At the same time, piracy in the Mediterranean has flourished and has become a real disaster. The bandits rampaged through the area from Marmara sea to Sicily. Again quote Plutarch: “Pirate drinking with music and songs on each Bank, the capture as hostages of high officials, indemnities, which were imposed on the captured city – it was a shame for the Roman rule.” Gradually, the threat became strategic. Rome was already heavily dependent on Maritime communications. At first, problems with Maritime trade caused a shortage except that luxury goods from distant countries and handicraft products, which were imported from Greece and Asia. Gradually it became even worse – felt interruptions in the flow of grain from Africa, Sardinia, Sicily. And when did the war between Rome and king Mithridates, the cases are generally poor. The fact that Mithridates for some time had influence on the pirate state and actively used the robbers for their own purposes. It is not known whether it was the work of agents of Mithridates, but the cilicians particularly hated the Romans. According to the testimony of the same Plutarch, as soon as the Roman was among the prisoners, the robbers staged a real performance: “They pretended to be frightened, embarrassed, kneeled down, asked for pardon. When a naive prisoner began to believe in this Comedy, he was dressed in a toga, shoes and lowered the ladder into the water. The unfortunate wished a happy journey, and if he began to defend himself – just drowned.” Therefore, Rome was forced to take the “Cilician factor” seriously. We will not list all the attempts of a huge military machine to deal with the robber brothers. They gave no results. Like a mythical Hydra, piracy grew severed heads. This continued until the Romans entrusted the matter to Gnaeus Pompey. This talented commander and at the same time not very successful politician cardinally changed tactics of war. He divided the Mediterranean into zones, each of which was patrolled by a Roman squadron. The captains were ordered to fight only in their own zone and, most importantly, to intercept the robbers who fled from the neighboring zone. This arrangement has led to the fact that in a few months the Mediterranean was cleared of pirates – they simply were not given the opportunity to maneuver and drove into distant bays. At the same time the marine corps of the Romans was landed on the dry land and smashed the enemy base. The speed, and most importantly the energy with which the gnaeus Pompey acted, literally paralyzed the will of the pirates. Even more demoralizing treatment of Roman prisoners. Those who surrendered without a fight were released, and those who resisted were brutally executed. Therefore, in just a few months the Romans drove the cilicians from the sea.

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