Alexis, fragment 222 from The Tarentines
Whether anybody will say that my judgement is good or bad I cannot tell you; but this, at least, I have made up my mind about on careful study: that all the doings of men are out-and-out crazy, and that we who for the time being are alive are only getting an outing, as though let loose from death and darkness to keep holiday, to amuse ourselves and to enjoy this light which we can see. And the man who laughs and drinks the most, and holds fast to Aphrodite, during the time he is set free, and to such gifts as Fortune offers, after he has had a most pleasant holiday can depart for home a well-satisfied man.
[Aristotle], de Mirabilibus Auscultationibus 107
At Tarentum it is said that at certain times sacrifices are offered to the spirits of the Atreidae, Tydidae, Aeacidae and Laertiadae, but that they offer sacrifice to the Agamemnonidae separately on another special day, upon which it is the custom for the women not to taste the victims sacrificed to them. They also possess Achilles’ temple. It is also said that after the Tarentines took the place in which they now live it was called Heracleia, but in early time when the Ionians held it, Pleion; even before this date it was called Sigeum by the Trojans, who possessed it.
Arnobius of Sicca, Adversus Nationes 5.20
After the tenth month she bears a daughter, of beautiful form, whom later ages have called now Libera, now Proserpine; whom when Jupiter Verveceus saw to be strong, plump, and blooming, forgetting what evils and what wickedness, and how great recklessness, he had a little before fallen into, he returns to his former practices; and because it seemed too wicked that a father openly be joined as in marriage with his daughter, he passes into the terrible form of a dragon: he winds his huge coils round the terrified maiden, and under a fierce appearance sports and caresses her in softest embraces. She, too, is in consequence filled with the seed of the most powerful Jupiter, but not as her mother was, for she bore a daughter like herself; but from the maiden was born something like a bull, to testify to her seduction by Jupiter. If any one asks who narrates this, then we shall quote the well-known senarian verse of a Tarentine poet which antiquity sings, saying “Taurus draconem genuit, et taurum draco” [“The bull begot a dragon, and the dragon a bull.”] Lastly, the sacred rites themselves, and the ceremony of initiation even, named Sebadia, might attest the truth; for in them a golden snake is let down into the bosom of the initiated, and taken away again from the lower parts.
Athenaios, Deipnosophistai 12.23-24
But Clearchus, in the fourth book of his Lives, says that the people of Tarentum, after they had acquired strength and power, carried their luxury to such a height, that they used to make their whole body smooth, and that they were the first people who set other nations an example of this smoothness. They also, says he, all wore very beautiful fringes on their garments; such as those with which now the life of woman is refined. And afterwards, being led on by their luxury to insolence, they overthrew a city of the Iapyges, called Carbina, and collected all the boys and maidens, and women in the flower of their age, out of it into the temples of the Carbinians; and made a spectacle of them, exposing them naked by day for all who chose to come and look at them, so that whoever pleased, leaping, as it were, on this unfortunate band, might satisfy his appetite, with the beauty of those who were there assembled, in the sight of everyone, and above all of the Gods, whom they were thinking of but little. And this aroused the indignation of the Deity, so that he struck all the Tarentines who behaved so impiously in Carbina with his thunderbolts. And even to this day at Tarentum every one of the houses has the same number of pillars before its doors as that of the people who lived there before they were sent to Iapygia. And, when the day comes which is the anniversary of their death, they do not bewail those who perished at those pillars, nor do they offer the libations which are customary in other cases, but they offer sacrifices to Zeus the Thunderer.
Now the race of the Iapygians came originally from Crete, being descended from those Cretans who came to seek for Glaucus, and settled in that part of Italy; but afterwards, they, forgetting the orderly life of the Cretans came to such a pitch of luxury, and from thence to such a degree of insolence, that they were the first people who painted their faces, and who wore headbands and false hair, and who clothed themselves in robes embroidered with flowers, and who considered it disgraceful to cultivate the land, or to do any kind of labour. And most of them made their houses more beautiful than the temples of the gods; and so they say, that the leaders of the Iapygians, treating the Deity with insult, destroyed the images of the gods out of the temples, ordering them to give place to their superiors. On which account, being struck with fire and thunderbolts, they gave rise to this report; for indeed the thunderbolts with which they were stricken down were visible a long time afterwards. And to this very day all their descendants live with shaven heads and in mourning apparel, in want of all the luxuries which previously belonged to them.
Cassius Dio, Roman History 9.39.5-10
Lucius was despatched by the Romans to Tarentum. Now the Tarentines were celebrating the Dionysia, and sitting gorged with wine in the theatre one afternoon, they suspected that he was sailing against them. Immediately, in a passion and partly under the influence of intoxication, they set sail in turn; and thus, without any show force on his part or the slightest suspicion of any hostile act, they attacked and sent to the bottom both him and many others. When the Romans heard of this, they naturally were angry, but did not choose to take the field against Tarentum at once. However, they despatched envoys, in order not to appear to have passed over the affair in silence and in that way render them more arrogant. But the Tarentines, so far from receiving them decently or even sending them back with an answer in any way suitable, at once, before so much as granting them an audience, made sport of their dress and general appearance. It was the city garb, which was in use in the Forum; and this the envoys had put on, either for the sake of dignity or else by way of precaution, thinking that this at least would cause the foreigners to respect their position. Bands of revellers accordingly jeered at them — they were also celebrating a festival, which, though they were at no time noted for temperate behaviour, rendered them still more wanton — and finally a man planted himself in the way of Postumius, and stooping over, relieved his bowels and soiled the envoy’s clothing. At this an uproar arose from all the rest, who praised the fellow as if he had performed some remarkable deed, and they sang many scurrilous verses against the Romans, accompanied by applause and capering steps. But Postumius cried: “Laugh, laugh while you may! For long will be the period of your weeping, when you shall wash this garment clean with your blood.” Hearing this, they ceased their jests, but made no move toward obtaining pardon for their insult; indeed, they took to themselves credit for a kindness in the fact that they had let the ambassadors withdraw unharmed. Meton, failing to persuade the Tarentines not to engage in war with the Romans, retired unobserved from the assembly, put garlands on his head, and returned along with some fellow-revellers and a flute-girl. At the sight of him singing and dancing the cordax,a they gave up the business in hand to accompany his movements with shouts and hand-clapping, as people are apt to do under such circumstances. But he, after reducing them to silence, said: “Now it is our privilege both to be drunk and to revel, but if you accomplish what you plan to do, we should be slaves.”
Diogenes Laertios, Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers 8
Archytas of Tarentum, son of Mnesagoras or, if we may believe Aristoxenus, of Hestiaeus, was another of the Pythagoreans. He it was whose letter saved Plato when he was about to be put to death by Dionysius. He was generally admired for his excellence in all fields; thus he was generalissimo of his city seven times, while the law excluded all others even from a second year of command. Aristoxenus says that Archytas was never defeated during his whole generalship, though he once resigned it owing to badfeeling against him, whereupon the army at once fell into the hands of the enemy. He was the first to bring mechanics to a system by applying mathematical principles; he also first employed mechanical motion in a geometrical construction, namely, when he tried, by means of a section of a half-cylinder, to find two mean proportionals in order to duplicate the cube. In geometry, too, he was the first to discover the cube, as Plato says in the Republic.
Dionysios of Halikarnassos, Roman Antiquities 19.3.1-2
When Leucippus the Lacedaemonian inquired where it was fated for him and his followers to settle, the god commanded them to sail to Italy and settle that part of the land where they should stay a day and a night after landing. The expedition made land near Callipolis, a seaport of the Tarentines; and Leucippus, pleased with the nature of the place, persuaded the Tarentines to permit them to encamp there for a day and a night. When several days had passed and the Tarentines asked them to depart, Leucippus paid no heed for them, claiming that he had received the land from them under a compact for day and night; and so long as there should be either of these he would not give up the land. So the Tarentines, realizing that they had been tricked, permitted them to remain.
Dionysios of Halikarnassos, Roman Antiquities 19.5.1-5
Postumius was sent as ambassador to the Tarentines. As he was making an address to them, the Tarentines, far from paying heed to him or thinking seriously, as men should do who are sensible and are taking counsel for a state which is in peril, watched rather to see if he would make any slip in the finer points of the Greek language, and then laughed, became exasperated at his truculence, which they called barbarous, and finally were ready to drive him out of the theatre. As the Romans were departing, one of the Tarentines standing beside the exit was a man named Philonides, a frivolous fellow who because of his besotted condition in which he passed his whole life was called Demijohn; and this man, being still full of yesterday’s wine, as soon as the ambassadors drew near, pulled up his garment, and assuming a posture most shameful to behold, bespattered the sacred robe of the ambassador with the filth that is indecent even to be uttered.
When laughter burst out from the whole theatre and the most insolent clapped their hands, Postumius, looking at Philonides, said: “We shall accept the omen, you frivolous fellow, in the sense that you Tarentines give us what we do not ask for.” Then he turned to the crowd and showed his defiled robe; but when he found that the laughter of everybody became even greater and heard the cries of some who were exulting over and praising the insult, he said: “Laugh while you may, Tarentines! Laugh! For long will be the time that you will weep hereafter.” When some became embittered at this threat, he added: “And that you may become yet more angry, we say this also to you, that you will wash out this robe with much blood.” The Roman ambassadors, having been insulted in this fashion by the Tarentines both privately and publicly and having uttered the prophetic words which I have reported, sailed away from their city.
Dionysios of Halikarnassos, Roman Antiquities 19.8.1-4
When the Tarentines wished to summon Pyrrhus from Epirus to aid in the war against the Romans and were banishing those who opposed this course, a certain Meton, himself a Tarentine, in order to gain their attention and show them all the evils that would come in the train of royalty into a free and luxury-loving state, came into the theatre, at a time when the multitude was seated there, wearing a garland, as if returning from a banquet, and embracing a young flute-girl who was playing on her flute tunes appropriate to songs of revelry. When the seriousness of all gave way to laughter and some of them bade him to sing, others to dance, Meton looked round him on every side and waved his hand for silence; then, when he had quieted the disturbance, he said: “Citizens, of these things which you see me doing now you will not be able to do a single one if you permit a king and a garrison to enter the city.” When he saw that many were moved and paying attention and were bidding him to prospect on, he proceeded, while still preserving the pretence of drunkenness, to enumerate all the evils that would befall them. But while he was still speaking, the remain responsible for these evils seized him and threw him head first out of the theatre.
Dionysios of Halikarnassos, Roman Antiquities 20.1.1-4;2.1
Having agreed through heralds upon the time when they would join in battle, they descended from their camps and took up their positions as follows: King Pyrrhus gave the Macedonian phalanx the first place on the right wing and placed next to it the Italiot mercenaries from Tarentum; then the troops from Ambracia and after them the phalanx of Tarentines equipped with white shields, forced by the allied force of Bruttians and Lucanians; in the middle of the battle-line he stationed the Thesprotians and Chaonians; next to them the mercenaries of the Aetolians, Acarnanians and Athamanians, and finally the Samnites, who constituted the left wing. Of the horse, he stationed the Samnite, Thessalian and Bruttian squadrons and the Tarentine mercenary force upon the right wing, and the Ambraciot, Lucanian and Tarentine squadrons and the Greek mercenaries, consisting of Acarnanians, Aetolians, Macedonians and Athamanians, on the left. he light-armed troops and the elephants he divided into two groups and placed them behind both wings, at a reasonable distance, in a position slightly elevated above the plain. He himself, surrounded by the royal agema, as it was called, of picked horsemen, about two thousand in number, was outs the battle-line, so as to aid promptly any of his troops in turn that might be hard pressed. When the signals for battle were hoisted, the soldiers first chanted their war songs, and then, raising the battle-cry to Enyalius, advanced to the fray, engaged and fought, displaying all their skill in arms.
Herodotos, The Histories 1.24.1-8
They say that this Arion, who spent most of his time with Periander, wished to sail to Italy and Sicily, and that after he had made a lot of money there he wanted to come back to Corinth. Trusting none more than the Corinthians, he hired a Corinthian vessel to carry him from Tarentum. But when they were out at sea, the crew plotted to take Arion’s money and cast him overboard. Discovering this, he earnestly entreated them, asking for his life and offering them his money. But the crew would not listen to him, and told him either to kill himself and so receive burial on land or else to jump into the sea at once. Abandoned to this extremity, Arion asked that, since they had made up their minds, they would let him stand on the half-deck in all his regalia and sing; and he promised that after he had sung he would do himself in. The men, pleased at the thought of hearing the best singer in the world, drew away toward the waist of the vessel from the stern. Arion, putting on all his regalia and taking his lyre, stood up on the half-deck and sang the “Stirring Song,” and when the song was finished he threw himself into the sea, as he was with all his regalia. So the crew sailed away to Corinth; but a dolphin (so the story goes) took Arion on his back and bore him to Taenarus. Landing there, he went to Corinth in his regalia, and when he arrived, he related all that had happened. Periander, skeptical, kept him in confinement, letting him go nowhere, and waited for the sailors. When they arrived, they were summoned and asked what news they brought of Arion. While they were saying that he was safe in Italy and that they had left him flourishing at Tarentum, Arion appeared before them, just as he was when he jumped from the ship; astonished, they could no longer deny what was proved against them. This is what the Corinthians and Lesbians say, and there is a little bronze memorial of Arion on Taenarus, the figure of a man riding upon a dolphin.
Julian, Misopogon 355d
Once upon a time the citizens of Tarentum paid to the Romans the penalty for this sort of jesting, seeing that, when drunk at the festival of Dionysos, they insulted the Roman ambassadors.
Justin, Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus 3.4
A number of young men were sent back to Sparta with permission to form promiscuous connexions with all the women of the city, thinking that conception would be more speedy if each of the females made the experiment with several men. Those who sprung from these unions were called Partheniae, as a reflection on their mothers’ violated chastity; and, when they came to thirty years of age, being alarmed with the fear of want (for not one of them had a father to whose estate he could hope to succeed,) they chose a captain named Phalantus, the son of Aratus, by whose advice the Spartans had sent home the young men to propagate, that, as they had formerly had the father for the author of their birth, they might now have the son as the establisher of their hopes and fortunes. Without taking leave of their mothers, therefore, from whose adultery they thought that they derived dishonour, they set out to seek a place of settlement, and being tossed about a long time, and with various mischances, they at last arrived on the coast of Italy, where, after seizing the citadel of the Tarentines, and expelling the old inhabitants, they fixed their abode. But several years after, their leader Phalantus, being driven into exile by a popular tumult, went to Brundusium, whither the former inhabitants of Tarentum had retreated after they were expelled from their city. When he was at the point of death, he urged the exiles “to have his bones, and last relics, bruised to dust, and privately sprinkled in the forum of Tarentum; for that Apollo at Delphi had signified that by this means they might recover their city.” They, thinking that he had revealed the destiny of his countrymen to avenge himself, complied with his directions; but the intention of the oracle was exactly the reverse; for it promised the Spartans, upon the performance of what he had said, not the loss, but the perpetual possession of the city. Thus by the subtlety of their exiled captain, and the agency of their enemies, the possession of Tarentum was secured to the Partheniae for ever.
Leonidas of Tarentum, Greek Anthology 7.715
Far from Italy and from my fatherland of Taras I lie;
this to me is more bitter than death.
This kind of wandering life is lifeless,
but the Muses have looked kindly upon me,
and so instead of pains I have what is sweet.
The name of Leonidas will not dim:
the gifts of the Muses will herald me for all time.
Leonidas of Tarentum, Greek Anthology 9.326
Greetings, chilly stream that leaps down from the cleft rock
And you wooden images of the Nymphs carved by a shepherd
And you drinking troughs from the springs,
and in the water these little ornaments of yours,
maidens, thousands of them, drenched.
Hail. I, Aristocles, this sojourner, give you this present
With which I quenched my thirst, dipping it in your waters.
Leonidas of Tarentum, Greek Anthology 9.542
To the must-drinking Satyrs and to Bacchus,
planter of the vine,
Heronax consecrated the first handfuls of his plantation,
these three casks from three vineyards,
filled with the first flow of the wine;
from which we,
having poured such libation as is meet to crimson Bacchus and the Satyrs,
will drink deeper than they.
Nossis, Palatine Anthology 7.414
Pass by over me with a ringing laugh, and then tell me
a friend word: I am Rinthon, the one of Syracuse.
A small nightingale of the Muses; from the tragic phliaxes
I was able to pick an ivy different and mine.
Pausanias, Description of Greece 3.12.5-6
There is a hero-shrine of Lelex himself. Not far from these is a precinct of Poseidon of Taenarum, which is the surname given him, and near by an image of Athena, which is said to have been dedicated by the colonists who left for Tarentum in Italy.
Pausanias, Description of Greece 10.10.6-8
The bronze horses and captive women dedicated by the Tarentines were made from spoils taken from the Messapians, a non-Greek people bordering on the territory of Tarentum, and are works of Ageladas the Argive. Tarentum is a colony of the Lacedaemonians, and its founder was Phalanthus, a Spartan. On setting out to found a colony Phalanthus received an oracle from Delphi, declaring that when he should feel rain under a cloudless sky (aethra), he would then win both a territory and a city.
At first he neither examined the oracle himself nor informed one of his interpreters, but came to Italy with his ships. But when, although he won victories over the barbarians, he succeeded neither in taking a city nor in making himself master of a territory, he called to mind the oracle, and thought that the god had foretold an impossibility. For never could rain fall from a clear and cloudless sky. When he was in despair, his wife, who had accompanied him from home, among other endearments placed her husband’s head between her knees and began to pick out the lice. And it chanced that the wife, such was her affection, wept as she saw her husband’s fortunes coming to nothing.
As her tears fell in showers, and she wetted the head of Phalanthus, he realized the meaning of the oracle, for his wife’s name was Aethra. And so on that night he took from the barbarians Tarentum, the largest and most prosperous city on the coast. They say that Taras the hero was a son of Poseidon by a nymph of the country, and that after this hero were named both the city and the river. For the river, just like the city, is called Taras.
Pausanias, Description of Greece 10.13.10
The Tarentines sent yet another tithe to Delphi from spoils taken from the Peucetii, a non-Greek people. The offerings are the work of Onatas the Aeginetan, and Ageladas the Argive, and consist of statues of footmen and horsemen – Opis, king of the Iapygians, come to be an ally to the Peucetii. Opis is represented as killed in the fighting, and on his prostrate body stand the hero Taras and Phalanthos of Lacedaemon, near whom is a dolphin. For they say that before Phalanthos reached Italy, he suffered shipwreck in the Crisaean sea, and was brought ashore by a dolphin.
Plato, Laws 1.637a-c
Megillus: Indeed there is not a man who would not punish at once and most severely any drunken reveller he chanced to meet with, nor would even the feast of Dionysos serve as an excuse to save him—a revel such as I once upon a time witnessed “on the wagons” in your country; and at our colony of Tarentum, too, saw the whole city drunk at the Dionysia. But with us no such thing is possible.
Athenian: Regarding all such practices, whether in Tarentum, Athens or Sparta, there is one answer that is held to vindicate their propriety. The universal answer to the stranger who is surprised at seeing in a State some unwonted practice is this: “Be not surprised, O Stranger: such is the custom with us: with you, perhaps, the custom in these matters is different.”
Pliny, Natural History 8.73
The most esteemed wool of all is that of Apulia, and that which in Italy is called Grecian wool, in other countries Italian. The fleeces of Miletus hold the third rank. The Apulian wool is shorter in the hair, and only owes its high character to the cloaks that are made of it. That which comes from the vicinity of Tarentum and Canusium is the most celebrated.
Strabo, Geography 5.4.12
Concerning the Samnitae there is another story current to this effect: The Sabini, since they had long been at war with the Ombrici, vowed (just as some of the Greeks do) to dedicate everything that was produced that year; and, on winning the victory, they partly sacrificed and partly dedicated all that was produced; then a dearth ensued, and some one said that they ought to have dedicated the babies too; this they did, and devoted to Mars all the children born that year; and these children, when grown to manhood, they sent away as colonists, and a bull led the way; and when the bull lay down to rest in the land of the Opici (who, as it chanced, were living only in villages), the Sabini ejected them and settled on the spot, and, in accordance with the utterance of their seers, slaughtered the bull as a sacrifice to Mars who had given it for a guide. It is reasonable to suppose therefore that their name “Sabelli” is a nickname derived from the name of their forefathers, while their name “Samnitae” (the Greeks say “Saunitae”) is due to a different cause. Some say, moreover, that a colony of Laconians joined the Samnitae, and that for this reason the Samnitae actually became philhellenes, and that some of them were even called “Pitanatae.” But it is thought that the Tarantini simply fabricated this, to flatter, and at the same time to win the friendship of, a powerful people on their borders; because, on a time, the Samnitae were wont to send forth an army of as many as eighty thousand infantry and eight thousand cavalry. And they say that among the Samnitae there is a law which is indeed honourable and conducive to noble qualities; for they are not permitted to give their daughters in marriage to whom they wish, but every year ten virgins and ten young men, the noblest of each sex, are selected, and, of these, the first choice of the virgins is given to the first choice of the young men, and the second to the second, and so on to the end; but if the young man who wins the meed of honour changes and turns out bad, they disgrace him and take away from him the woman given him. Next after the Samnitae come the Hirpini, and they too are Samnitae; they got their name from the wolf that led the way for their colony (for “hirpus” is what the Samnitae call the wolf); and their territory adjoins that of those Leucani who live in the interior. So much, then, for the Samnitae.
Strabo, Geography 6.1.2-3
Accordingly, the Partheniae went thither with Phalanthos, and they were welcomed by both the barbarians and the Cretans who had previously taken possession of the place. These latter, it is said, are the people who sailed with Minos to Sicily, and, after his death, which occurred at the home of Cocalus in Camici, set sail from Sicily; but on the voyage back they were driven out of their course to Taras, although later some of them went afoot around the Adrias as far as Macedonia and were called Bottiaeans. But all the people as far as Daunia, it is said, were called Iapyges, after Iapyx, who is said to have been the son of Daedalus by a Cretan woman and to have been the leader of the Cretans. The city of Taras, however, was named after some hero.
The origin of the Partheniae is this: the Lacedaemonians were at war with the Messenians because the latter had killed their king Teleclus when he went to Messene to offer sacrifice, and they swore that they would not return home again until they either destroyed Messene or were all killed; and when they set out on the expedition, they left behind the youngest and the oldest of the citizens to guard the city; but later on, in the tenth year of the war, the Lacedaemonian women met together and sent certain of their own number to make complaint to their husbands that they were carrying on the war with the Messenians on unequal terms, for the Messenians, staying in their own country, were begetting children, whereas they, having abandoned their wives to widowhood, were on an expedition in the country of the enemy, and they complained that the fatherland was in danger of being in want of men; and the Lacedaemonians, both keeping their oath and at the same time bearing in mind the argument of the women, sent the men who were most vigorous and at the same time youngest, for they knew that these had not taken part in the oaths, because they were still children when they went out to war along with the men who were of military age; and they ordered them to cohabit with the maidens, every man with every maiden, thinking that thus the maidens would bear many more children; and when this was done, the children were named Partheniae. But as for Messene, it was captured after a war of nineteen years, as Tyrtaeus says: “About it they fought for nineteen years, relentlessly, with heart ever steadfast, did the fathers of our fathers, spearmen they; and in the twentieth the people forsook their fertile farms and fled from the great mountains of Ithome.” Now the Lacedaemonians divided up Messenia among themselves, but when they came on back home they would not honor the Partheniae with civic rights like the rest, on the ground that they had been born out of wedlock; and the Partheniae, leaguing with the Helots, formed a plot against the Lacedaemonians and agreed to raise a Laconian cap in the market-place as a signal for the attack. But though some of the Helots had revealed the plot, the Lacedaemonians decided that it would be difficult to make a counter-attack against them, for the Helots were not only numerous but were all of one mind, regarding themselves as virtually brothers of one another, and merely charged those who were about to raise the signal to go away from the marketplace. So the plotters, on learning that the undertaking had been betrayed, held back, and the Lacedaemonians persuaded them, through the influence of their fathers, to go forth and found a colony, and if the place they took possession of sufficed them, to stay there, but if not, to come on back and divide among themselves the fifth part of Messenia. And they, thus sent forth, found the Achaeans at war with the barbarians, took part in their perils, and founded Taras.
Strabo, Geography 6.3.1
The ground of Taras is low-lying, but still it is slightly elevated where the acropolis is. The old wall has a large circuit, but at the present time the greater part of the city — the part that is near the isthmus — has been forsaken, but the part that is near the mouth of the harbour, where the acropolis is, still endures and makes up a city of noteworthy size. And it has a very beautiful gymnasium, and also a spacious market-place, in which is situated the bronze colossus of Zeus, the largest in the world except the one that belongs to the Rhodians. Between the market-place and the mouth of the harbour is the acropolis, which has but few remnants of the dedicated objects that in early times adorned it, for most of them were either destroyed by the Carthaginians when they took the city or carried off as booty by the Romans when they took the place by storm. Among this booty is the Heracles in the Capitol, a colossal bronze statue, the work of Lysippus, dedicated by Maximus Fabius, who captured the city.
Strabo, Geography 6.3.2
In speaking of the founding of Taras, Antiochus says that after the Messenian war broke out, those of the Lacedaemonians who did not take part in the expedition were adjudged slaves and were named Helots, and all children who were born in the time of the expedition were called Partheniae and judicially deprived of the rights of citizenship, but they would not tolerate this, and since they were numerous formed a plot against the free citizens; and when the latter learned of the plot they sent secretly certain men who, through a pretence of friendship, were to report what manner of plot it was; among these was Phalanthus, who was reputed to be their champion, but he was not pleased, in general, with those who had been named to take part in the council. It was agreed, however, that the attack should be made at the Hyacinthian festival in the Amyclaeum when the games were being celebrated, at the moment when Phalanthus should put on his leather cap (the free citizens were recognizable by their hair) but when Phalanthus and his men had secretly reported the agreement, and when the games were in progress, the herald came forward and forbade Phalanthus to put on a leather cap; and when the plotters perceived that the plot had been revealed, some of them began to run away and others to beg for mercy; but they were bidden to be of good cheer and were given over to custody; Phalanthus, however, was sent to the temple of the god to consult with reference to founding a colony; and the god responded, “I give to thee Satyrium, both to take up thine abode in the rich land of Taras and to become a bane to the Iapygians.” Accordingly, the Partheniae went thither with Phalanthus, and they were welcomed by both the barbarians and the Cretans who had previously taken possession of the place. These latter, it is said, are the people who sailed with Minos to Sicily, and, after his death, which occurred at the home of Cocalus in Camici, set sail from Sicily; but on the voyage back they were driven out of their course to Taras, although later some of them went afoot around the Adrias as far as Macedonia and were called Bottiaeans. But all the people as far as Daunia, it is said, were called Iapyges, after Iapyx, who is said to have been the son of Daedalus by a Cretan woman and to have been the leader of the Cretans. The city of Taras, however, was named after some hero.
Strabo, Geography 6.3.6
When Herodotos states that Hyria is in Iapygia and was founded by the Cretans who strayed from the fleet of Minos when on its way to Sicily, we must understand Hyria to be either Uria or Veretum. Brentesium, they say, was further colonised by the Cretans, whether by those who came over with Theseus from Knossos or by those who set sail from Sicily with Iapyx (the story is told both ways), although they did not stay together there, it is said, but went off to Bottiaea. Later on, however, when ruled by kings, the city lost much of its country to the Lacedaemonians who were under the leadership of Phalanthos; but still, when he was ejected from Taras, he was admitted by the Brentesini, and when he died was counted by them worthy of a splendid burial.
Theopompos, fragment 233, quoted by Athenaios, Deipnosophistai 4.166 e-f
The city of Tarentum offers sacrifices of oxen and holds public banquets nearly every month. The mass of common people is always busy with parties and drinking-bouts. And the Tarentines have a saying of some such purport as this, that whereas the rest of the world, in their devotion to work and their preoccupation with various forms of industry, are always preparing to live, they themselves, with their parties and their pleasures, do not put off living, but live already.