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Trouble in the East:
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Cilician Pirates
Third Mithridatic War
Pompey in the East

Pompey and the Cilician Pirates

Before the appointment of Pompey to the command against the Cilicians, wheat and other import prices were skyrocketing. Fears over captured or waylaid shipments were legitimate concerns. Upon passage of the law granting Pompey extraordinary powers, the prices immediately stabilized. The people of Rome had great faith in their favorite general to end the foreign threat.

Pompey arrived in his territorial command late in 67 BC with a large contingent of ships. His fleet was so large he was able to split the command between 13 naval legates responsible for various sections of the Mediterranean. 60 ships remained under his direct command, which he used as a mobile task force to flush out pirate activity and drive them into the territorial fleets of his commanders. Within 3 months, pirate activity on the western Mediterranean was virtually wiped out, and limited to the far east.

With the sea secured Pompey turned inland towards Cilicia. Quickly and with little resistance, the pirate bases and defenses were eliminated. Those former pirates who remained were moved further inland and offered life as farmers to give them an alternative opportunity away from piracy. Within three months, Pompey had delivered on his promises and secured Roman waters from piracy threats. In fact, the biggest threats on the Mediterranean after Pompey, were rival Roman forces in the civil wars that would follow.

While Pompey's victory was glorious at the time, the work of his predecessors must be acknowledged. Publius Servilius Vatia, who commanded a similar operation from 78 to 75 BC, did much to limit piracy to particular areas. The inland pirate retreats were threatened by the activities of Lucullus in the Mithridatic War. By the time Pompey arrived, the stage was set for an easy victory, yet, he was the one to accomplish it.

Pompey was now free to broaden his operations, with the piracy issue settled so quickly. The Tribune C. Manilius next proposed that Pompey take over the entire eastern campaign. Before the current commander, Glabrio could even get started, Pompey was granted Imperium to command the entire east, and took over. In 66 BC, the final show down with Mithridates was to begin.

continue to the Third Mithridatic War

Did you know?

Publius Servilius Vatia who cleared Lycia and Pamphylia of the Cilician Pirates in 77 B.C, was about to strike against the pirates' base at Coracesium when a new war against Mithradates broke out.





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Cilician Pirates - Related Topic: Roman Navy


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