When Julius Caesar Was Kidnapped By Pirates, He Demanded They Increase His Ransom

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Getty Images

Daven Hiskey runs the wildly popular interesting fact website Today I Found Out. To subscribe to his “Daily Knowledge” newsletter, click here.

In 75 BCE, 25-year-old Julius Caesar was sailing the Aegean Sea when he was kidnapped by Cilician pirates. According to Plutarch, when the pirates asked for a ransom of 20 talents of silver (approximately 620 kg of silver, or $600,000 in today's silver values), Caesar laughed at their faces. They didn't know who they had captured, he said, and demanded that they ask for 50 (1550 kg of silver), because 20 talents was simply not enough.

More Money, More Problems

The pirates, of course, agreed, and Caesar sent some of his associates off to gather the silver, a task that took 38 days. Now nearly alone with the pirates—only two servants and a friend remained with him—Caesar refused to cower. Instead, he treated the pirates as if they were his subordinates. He even went so far as to demand they not talk whenever he decided to sleep. He spent most of his time with them composing and reciting poetry and writing speeches. He would then recite the works to the pirates. Caesar also played various games with the pirates and participated in their exercises, generally acting as if he wasn’t a prisoner, but rather, their leader. The pirates quickly grew to respect and like him and allowed him the freedom to more or less do as he pleased on their island and ships.

While Caesar was friendly with the pirates, he didn’t appreciate being held captive. He told the pirates that, after his ransom was paid, he would hunt them down and have them crucified. Once he was freed, he made good on that promise: Despite the fact that he was a private citizen, Caesar managed to quickly raise a small fleet which he took back to the island where he had been held captive. Apparently the pirates hadn’t taken his threats seriously, because they were still there when he arrived. He captured them and took back his 50 talents of silver, along with all their possessions.

He next delivered the pirates to the authorities at the prison at Pergamon and then traveled to meet the proconsul of Asia, Marcus Junius, to petition to have the pirates executed. The proconsul refused: He wanted to sell the pirates as slaves and take the spoils for himself. Undeterred, Caesar traveled back to Pergamon where the Cilician pirates were being held and ordered that they be crucified. Before they went through that ordeal, however, Caesar showed some leniency—he cut their throats.

Check out more interesting articles from Daven over at Today I Found Out and subscribe to his Daily Knowledge newsletter here.

And learn more about the famed emperor by checking out our Julius Caesar biography page.

Amazon's Under-the-Radar Coupon Page Features Deals on Home Goods, Electronics, and Groceries

Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Now that Prime Day is over, and with Black Friday and Cyber Monday still a few weeks away, online deals may seem harder to come by. And while it can be a hassle to scour the internet for promo codes, buy-one-get-one deals, and flash sales, Amazon actually has an extensive coupon page you might not know about that features deals to look through every day.

As pointed out by People, the coupon page breaks deals down by categories, like electronics, home & kitchen, and groceries (the coupons even work with SNAP benefits). Since most of the deals revolve around the essentials, it's easy to stock up on items like Cottonelle toilet paper, Tide Pods, Cascade dishwasher detergent, and a 50 pack of surgical masks whenever you're running low.

But the low prices don't just stop at necessities. If you’re looking for the best deal on headphones, all you have to do is go to the electronics coupon page and it will bring up a deal on these COWIN E7 PRO noise-canceling headphones, which are now $80, thanks to a $10 coupon you could have missed.

Alternatively, if you are looking for deals on specific brands, you can search for their coupons from the page. So if you've had your eye on the Homall S-Racer gaming chair, you’ll find there's currently a coupon that saves you 5 percent, thanks to a simple search.

To discover all the deals you have been missing out on, head over to the Amazon Coupons page.

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Why Do We Have Daylight Saving Time?

Patrick Daxenbichler/iStock via Getty Images
Patrick Daxenbichler/iStock via Getty Images

As you drag your time-confused body out of bed at what seems like a shockingly late hour next week, you might find yourself wondering why on Earth we even have Daylight Saving Time.

Though Benjamin Franklin was mostly joking when he suggested it as a money-saving tactic in a satirical essay from 1784, others who later proposed the idea were totally serious. In 1895, entomologist George Vernon Hudson pitched it to the Royal Society in New Zealand as a way to prolong daylight for bug-hunting purposes, and William Willett spent the early 1900s lobbying British Parliament to adopt an 80-minute time jump in April; neither man was successful.

During World War I, however, the need to conserve energy—which, at the time, chiefly came from coal—increased, and Germany was the first to give Daylight Saving Time the green light in 1916. Britain and other European countries quickly followed suit, and the U.S. entered the game in 1918. The practice was dropped almost everywhere after the war, but it was widely resurrected just a few decades later during World War II.

After that war ended, the U.S. abandoned DST yet again—sort of. Without any official legislation, the country devolved into a jumble of conflicting practices. According to History.com, Iowa had 23 different pairs of start and end dates for DST in 1965, while other areas of the country didn’t observe DST at all.

In 1966, Congress put an end to the chaos by passing the Uniform Time Act, which specified that DST would begin at 2:00 a.m. on the last Sunday in April, and end at the same time on the last Sunday in October. (The Energy Policy Act of 2005 extended DST by shifting these dates to the second Sunday in March and the first Sunday in November.) It didn’t require that all states and territories actually observe DST, and some of them didn’t—Arizona and Hawaii still don’t.

Throughout its long, lurching history, the supposed merits of Daylight Saving Time have always been about cutting down on electricity usage and conserving energy in general. But, as Live Science reports, experts disagree on whether this actually works. Some studies suggest that while the extra daylight hour might decrease lighting-related electricity use, it also means people could be keeping their air conditioners running for long enough that it increases the overall usage of electricity.

If your extended night’s sleep seems to have left you with a little extra time on your hands, see how DST affects your part of the country here.

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