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Terrorism in antiquity

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Roman legionaries from the times of the principate
Roman legionaries from the times of the principate

Roman historian, Tacitus reports that in the summer of 82 CE, three Roman warships were hijacked. The captains of two of them were killed; the survivor surrendered to the orders of the kidnappers.

The hijacked ship sailed along the coast, invading more ports and robbing them without any suspicion on the part of the inhabitants. Gradually, however, resistance increased and lack of luck caused the hijackers to fail. Unsuccessful seizures caused the hijackers to suffer hunger. At some point it even reached cannibalism. Eventually, the Roman authorities began to hunt down the kidnappers, beat them and sold them into slavery.

It is also worth mentioning the sicarii, a Jewish political party that has been active since the mid-50s. First century CE until the fall of Masada in 73 CE. They were particularly active in the 50-70s CE.

During public holidays and crowds, sicarii armed with hidden short daggers (sicarii) dagged suspected collaborators in the crowd, then quickly blended into the crowd. Due to the manner in which they operate, they are considered to be the first terrorist organization today. Joseph Flavius, a Jewish historian, reports that the sicarii were such a plague that it was their fault that Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed.

Moreover, after the fall of the Jewish uprising, the surviving sicarii moved to Alexandria, Egypt, and promoted the rebellion. The same was done in Cyrene, Libya. Their victims were Jews or Romans who were opposed to them.

  • Gregory G. Bolich, Terrorism in the Ancient Roman World, "HistoryNet", 6 December 2016
  • Josephus Flavius, The Jewish War
  • Tacitus, The Histories

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