Thursday, July 06, 2006

National Geo tries to spoil our fun...

Leave it to the eggheads at National Geographic to rain on our parade...

But what was life really like for an early 18th-century pirate? The answer: pretty grim. It was a world of staggering violence and poverty, constant danger, and almost inevitable death.

The life of a pirate was never as glorious and exciting as depicted in the movies, said David Moore, curator of nautical archaeology at the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort. "Life at sea was hard and dangerous, and interspersed with life-threatening storms or battles. There was no air conditioning, ice for cocktails, or clean sheets aboard the typical pirate ship."

While the period from the late 1600s to the early 1700s is usually referred to as the "Golden Age of Piracy," the practice existed long before Blackbeard and other famous pirates struck terror in the hearts of merchant seamen along the Eastern Seaboard and Caribbean. And it exists today, primarily in the South China Sea and along the African coast.

One of the earliest and most high profile incidents of piracy occurred when a band of pirates captured Julius Caesar, the Roman emperor-to-be, in the Greek islands. Instead of throwing him overboard, as they did with most victims, the pirates held Caesar for ransom for 38 days.

When the money finally arrived, Caesar was let go. When he returned to port, Caesar immediately fitted a squadron of ships and set sail in pursuit of the pirates. The criminals were quickly caught and brought back to the mainland, where they were hanged.

Hangings, no air conditioning - HAH! Do they thing they can scare us with that? Nonsense!! It's a pirate's life for me!!!


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