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Beautiful ship for Verres

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Trire model
Trire model | Photo: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

In Roman times, it was very expensive and a lot of effort to put up a naval fleet. If the governor of the province received an order from the senate or decided that it was necessary to build, equip ships and train new crews, the entire financial burden naturally went to the cities of the province and their population.

When in the first century BCE the Mediterranean Sea was dominated by piracy, Sicily was particularly vulnerable to corsair attacks. Its governor Verres (in the years 73-71 BCE) was ordered to expand the naval fleet during his term of office. However, Verres was not focused on the actual expansion of the military potential of the naval forces, but rather on increasing his wealth. It was also more convenient for the city authorities to bribe the governor’s officials and Verres himself, rather than spending a fortune on new ships.

Ancient sources say that the inhabitants of the city of Messina supposedly gave the governor a richly decorated gold trireme with a purple sail. Verres was reportedly very pleased with the gift. Interestingly, the ship was supposed to last until the famous trial of Verres in 70 BCE, in which Cicero proved the extortion of Verres, and became evidence in the case.

  • Paweł Rochala, Powstanie Spartakusa 73-71 p.n.e., Kocewia Mała 2022

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