ricardienne: (york)
Velleius Paterculus, 2.41.3-43.1
Still a young man, he was captured by pirates, and his behavior among them for the whole duration of his captivity instilled equal measures of fear and respect. Never, either day or night (for why should the most important point be left out, simply because it cannot be said elegantly?) did he go without belt or shoes, to not become suspect, by varying anything from his usual routine, to the men who were guarding him merely with their eyes.

It would be too long to relate how many and what attempts he dared, how vehemently the magistrate of the Roman people who had been allotted the province of Asia failed to support these attempts out of his own cowardice. Consider it evidence of a man who would later survive much. When he was ransomed with funds from the local cities (on the condition that he force the pirates to give hostages beforehand), that very night he got together an adhoc and unofficial fleet, sailed to the pirates' location, where he put some of their ships to flight, sunk others, and captured a number of them along with many souls.

Rejoicing in his nocturnal expedition, he returned to his men in triumph, and, having turned over his captives into custody, he set out for Bithynia to Iuncus the Proconsul (who had been allotted this province as well as that of Asia), asking him to use his authority to execute the captured pirates. When Iuncus refused to do it and said that he would sell them instead, his sloth having turned into a grudge, Caesar sailed back with unbelievable speed. Before the Proconsul's dispatch on the subject could be given to anyone, he crucified all of his captives.

Subsequently, hastening back to Italy to take up a priesthood (he had been chosen Pontifex in the place of the distinguished Cotta)… to avoid being sighted by the pirates, who controlled all the seas and were understandable hostile to him, he embarked on a four-oared boat with only two companions and ten slaves and crossed the raging gulf of the Adriatic. During the crossing, he thought that he sighted the pirates' ships When he had thrown off his clothes and bound a dagger to his thigh, preparing himself for every eventuality of fortune, he then realized that his vision had been mistaken and that a stand of trees seen from an angle had given the appearance of masts.


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January 2017

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