The biggest pirate of all

Justice being taken away, then, what are kingdoms but great robberies? For what are robberies themselves, but little kingdoms? The band itself is made up of men; it is ruled by the authority of a prince, it is knit together by the pact of the confederacy; the booty is divided by the law agreed on. If, by the admittance of abandoned men, this evil increases to such a degree that it holds places, fixes abodes, takes possession of cities, and subdues peoples, it assumes the more plainly the name of a kingdom, because the reality is now manifestly conferred on it, not by the removal of covetousness, but by the addition of impunity. Indeed, that was an apt and true reply which was given to Alexander the Great by a pirate who had been seized. For when that king had asked the man what he meant by keeping hostile possession of the sea, he answered with bold pride, “What you mean by seizing the whole earth; but because I do it with a petty ship, I am called a robber, while you who does it with a great fleet are styled emperor.

via CHURCH FATHERS: City of God, Book IV (St. Augustine).

2 thoughts on “The biggest pirate of all

  1. Doug Roorda

    Huh, maybe that’s where W. S. Gilbert got his line from the song “I am a Pirate King” in Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Pirates of Penzance.”

    When I sally forth to seek my prey
    I help myself in a royal way.
    I sink a few more ships, it’s true,
    Than a well-bred monarch ought to do;
    But many a king on a first-class throne,
    If he wants to call his crown his own,
    Must manage somehow to get through
    More dirty work than ever I do,

    For I am a Pirate King!
    And it is, it is a glorious thing
    To be a Pirate King!

    http://math.boisestate.edu/GaS/pirates/web_op/pirates03.html

    Reply
  2. Pingback: A pragmatic answer to the pirate’s accusation

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