[Ansteorra] RE: Pirates in Period

Marc Carlson marccarlson20 at hotmail.com
Fri Sep 9 11:22:30 PDT 2005

>From: Stefan li Rous <StefanliRous at austin.rr.com>
>"and has always been a crime". Part of what I was trying to point out
>is that what is and isn't considered piracy differs by the person's
>point of view.
>When was Black's Law Dictionary written? If not pre-1600, do we have
>anything that indicates a universal view of piracy as a crime? Or
>only when perpetuated against the culture of the writer/speaker?

Ooh, can we argue the history of the word?

Pirate - derived from Latin 'pirata', and further from Greek 'peiratus' (the 
verb 'peiran' "to attempt, attack, assault")  It earliest appearance in 
English, according to the OED was 1448.  In th Middle English dictionary 
though, the earliest use as a word meaning someone who attacks and steals on 
the sea goes back to 1400, although I like the 1433 "lys as piratis to robbe 
upon the sea",  Curiously, in 1400 it may also be a typo for a fabulous 
undersea boat, and in the late 13th century there are two references to 
"Randolphus Pyrot" (and "Pyrat") - and I'm pretty sure that the appelation 
was ascribed to him someone else, but admittedly I can't say that for a 

See, the word really hasn't changed in meaning -that- much.  The fact that 
the word has pretty much the same meaning in most Romance languages is also 
somewhat suggestive.

So the question is, is robbing, stealing, plundering and whatnot a -crime-?

I would thinkn so, but what do I know -- I still maintain that "Viking" 
-may- have been a verb in Old Norse meaning "going on a road trip and coming 
back with more stuff than you left with," while in English it was a noun 
meaning "bloodthirsty lunatics with axes".


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