Pirates existed as far back as when people started using the oceans for conducting trades. The earliest documented evidence that show proof of emergence of piracy began with the exploits of the Sea Peoples who threatened the Aegean and Mediterranean in the 13th century BC. According to interpretations adopted during the ancient times in the Greek and Roman world, the Illyrians and Tyrrhenians were also known as pirates. The Island of Lemnos has always rejected Greek influence while remaining a haven for Thracian pirates. Even the Phoenicians were also deemed to be involved in acts related to piracy when they kidnapped children to be sold as slaves. By 1st century BC, piracy along the Antolian coast was so rampant that it threatened the trade route of the Roman Empire.
The history of piracy even involved the great Julius Caesar during his voyage across the Aegean Sea in 75 BC, when he was kidnapped by Cilician pirates and held prisoner in the Dodecanese islet of Pharmacusa. During his captive experience, he maintained his attitude of superiority as usual without showing fear. When the pirates demanded ransom of twenty talents of gold, Caesar was said to convince them that he was worth at least fifty and the pirates indeed followed what he has said and raised the ransom to fifty talents. When Caesar was released after the ransom was paid, he raised a fleet to pursue his captors and managed to kill all the pirates.
In 67 BC (the Lex Gabinia), The Roman Senate finally took a hard stance against piracy by empowering Pompey to deal with it. After three months of naval warfare, Pompey succeeded in suppressing the threat.
During the 3rd century, pirates became bolder and even made an attack on Olympus (city in Anatolia) and as the result of it, brought suffering and poverty to the region. The Illyrians have always been famous as ancient pirates populating the western Balkan Peninsula and constantly raiding the Adriatic Sea. Their activities have always caused uneasiness and conflicts with the Roman Republic. These lasted until 68 BC when the Romans finally conquered Illyria and making it a province and thus ending the threat.
Other historical events related to ancient piracy, include the Gothic-Herulic fleet that plundered towns on the coasts of the Black Sea and Sea of Marmara. The event took place around 258 AD and few years later the Aegean coast also suffered such similar fate. In 264, the Goths reached Galatia and Cappadocia and seized enormous amount of belonging and took thousands of citizens into captivity while the Gothic pirates landed on Cyprus and Crete.
In 286 AD, a Roman military commander of Gaulish origins, named Carausius was given the task to commandeer the Classis Britannica, and his objective was to eliminate the
Frankish and Saxon pirates who had been raiding the coasts of Armorica and Belgic Gaul. The history of piracy also extends as far as the Roman province of Britannia when Saint Patrick was captured and enslaved by Irish pirates.
Polynesian pirates have always been famous for their hit-and-run tactics, attacking and plundering seaside and riverside villages. The sea was to be used as a safe haven to retreat to if tides of battle turned against them.
Further reading and DVDs on Ancient Piracy