Chapter Two

WHAT IS PIRACY?

Piracy may be a blot on civilization and its practitioners criminals whom it is a duty to extirpate. Yet there will always be a sympathetic response in the human heart to the appeal of the adventurer who dares go to far and dangerous places and in defiance of all organized respectability take his courage in both hands to carve out his fortune.

—Philip Gosse, History of Pirates

The word pirate comes from the ancient Greek word peirao, which means “to put to the test.” Analysis of ancient texts reveals that pirate had a broader application beyond a few notorious rebels who gained fame through their crimes. Entire villages, even small societies, were considered piratical if they refused to submit to local authorities. ...

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