Image via Wikipedia
This here is a partial map of the coast near Alanya, drawn by Ottoman cartographer, Piri Reis, sometime between 1465 and 1555. As you can see, besides the two castles at the points, there is little in between. It's still pretty much the same today, and if we go back to the first century BC, the only major difference is that the castles were smaller. An extremely craggy coastline is apparently deterent to urban sprawl. (Yay for that!)
The Taurus mountains (pictured on the right edge) cut the area off from Anatolia on the one side and come sprawling down to the sea on the other. Spectacular coves and views result, but as I learned, the zigzag on the map means the distance from A to B is increased exponentially.
(Please don't ask me about the hours I spent, white-knuckled, on a two lane road which barely hugged the mountain, watching the locals zip past at light speed before they whipped around the hairpin turns in a scene reminscent of a mad rally car race. Just don't.)
Anyway, back to the purpose of the post - Roman era PIRATES!
Coves for hideouts + plentiful supplies for ship building = heaven for rogue Seleucid, Diodotus Tryphon, and lots of his pals. (Strabo called him the first Cilician pirate.)
Back to the map...
- Point A :Coracesium (modern Alanya), the big castle and the impenetrable main fortress of the pirates. (Separate post, I promise.)
- Smooth curve (which we know is actually quite jagged. Piri Reis probably didn't want to get snagged by the rocks, hence no detail.)
- Point B:Mamure castle, (the whimpy one at the bottom), built by the Romans to fight them.
This via wikipedia: Plutarch recounts a particular custom of the Cilician pirates. When a prisoner of theirs called out he was Roman, the pirates would pretend to be scared and beg for mercy. If the prisoner took the pirate's mockery in earnest, they would dress him in Greek athletic shoes and a toga, that they might not repeat the mistake. After they were satisfied mocking him, they would lower a ladder into the sea, and, wishing him a fortuitous journey, invite him to step off. If the man wouldn't go of his own accord, they would push him overboard.
However, some (stupid) pirates got a little ambitious when they kidnapped Julius Caesar - twice.
The first time the pirates ransomed him for 500 kilos of silver, the second time they got a thousand. Julius Caeser didn't like the pattern he was seeing. He hopped on a war ship, defeated the responsible parties and crucified them. (We're probably being literal with that term.) Eventually, the Cilician menace pissed off enough Romans to warrant a true fight. The pirates tried not to engage, but they were disbanded and shipped off to farm the lands of inner Anatolia, as far from their beloved sea as possible.
So...why am I interested in this right now? Alanya/Mamure/and the Cilician coast, are my next story stop. Guess who I need to work in? The character is already coming together in my head - if I just give him a name, I'm sure he'll show himself. I think I'm really going to like him. :)
Any ideas on a good modern name for Tryphon?