Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 6.3.2 Str. 6.3.4 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 6.3.6

6.3.3

Ephorus gives the following account of the foundation. The Lacedæmonians waged war against the Messenians, who had murdered their king, Teleclus, [Note] when he visited Messene to offer sacrifice. They took an oath that they would not return home before they had destroyed Messene, or should be

-- 426 --

all slain. They left only the youngest and oldest of the citi- zens to keep their own country. After this, in the tenth [year] of the war, the Lacedæmonian matrons assembled and deputed certain women to remonstrate with the citizens, and show them that they were carrying on the war with the Messenians on very disadvantageous terms, for they, abiding in their own country, procreated children, while the Lacedæmonians, leaving their wives in a state like widowhood, remained away in the war; and to expose the great peril there was of the depopulation of their country. The Lacedæmonians, being both desirous of observing their oath, and taking into consideration the representations of their wives, sent a deputation of the most vigorous, and, at the same time, most juvenile of the army, whom they considered, in a manner, not to have participated in the oath, because they had been but children when they accompanied their elders to the war, and charged them all to company with all the maidens, reckoning that by that means they would bear the more children; which having been accordingly obeyed, the children who were born were denominated Partheniæ. Messene was taken after a war of nineteen years, as Tyrtæus says, The fathers of our fathers, armed for war,
Possessing ever patient courage, fought at Messene
For nineteen years with unremitting toil.
Till on the twentieth, leaving their rich soil,
The enemy forsook the towering heights of Ithome. [Note]

Thus then did they destroy Messenia, but returning home, they neglected to honour the Partheniæ like other youths, and treated them as though they had been born out of wedlock. The Partheniæ, leaguing with the Helots, conspired against the Lacedæmonians, and agreed to raise a Laconic felt hat [Note] in the market-place as a signal for the commencement of hostilities. Some of the Helots betrayed the plot, but the government found it difficult to resist them by force, for they were many, and all unanimous, and looked upon each other as brothers; those in authority therefore commanded such as were appointed to raise the signal, to depart out of the market-place; when they therefore perceived that their plot

-- 427 --

was disclosed they desisted, and the Lacedæmonians persuaded them, through the instrumentality of their fathers, to leave the country and colonize: and advised them, if they should get possession of a convenient place, to abide in it, but if not, they promised that a fifth part of Messenia should be divided amongst them on their return. So they departed and found the Greeks carrying on hostilities against the barbarians, and taking part in the perils of the war, they obtained possession of Tarentum, which they colonized. 6.3.4

At one time, when the government of the Tarentines had assumed a democratic form, they rose to great importance; for they possessed the greatest fleet of any state in those parts, and could bring into the field an army of 30,000 foot and 3000 horse, exclusive of a select body of 1000 cavalry called Hipparchi. [Note] They likewise encouraged the Pythagorean philosophy, and Archytas, who for a long time presided over the government of their state, gave it his special support. [Note] But at a later period their luxury, which was produced by their prosperity, increased to that degree that their general holidays or festivals exceeded in number the days of the year; and hence arose an inefficient government, and as one proof of their un- statesmanlike acts we may adduce their employment of foreign generals; for they sent for Alexander, [Note] king of the Molossi, to come and assist them against the Messapii and Leucani. They had before that employed Archidamus, the son of Agesilaus; [Note] afterwards they called in Cleonymus [Note] and Agathocles, [Note] and later, when they rose against the Romans, Pyrrhus. [Note] They were not able even to retain the respect of those whom they had invited, but rather merited their disgust. Alexander [of Epirus] was so displeased with them that lie endeavoured to remove the seat of the general council of the Greek states in Italy, which was accustomed to assemble at Heraclea, a city of the Tarentines, to a city of the Thurii; and he commanded that some place on the river Acalandrus, [Note]

-- 428 --

commodious for their meetings, should be properly fortified for their reception.—And indeed they say that the misfortune [Note] of that prince was chiefly due to a want of good feeling on their part. They were deprived of their liberty during the wars [Note] of Hannibal, but have since received a Roman colony, [Note] and now live in peace and are in a more prosperous state than ever. They also engaged in war with the Messapii concerning Heraclea, when they counted the kings of the Daunii and of the Peucetii as allies. [Note]



Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 6.3.2 Str. 6.3.4 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 6.3.6

Powered by PhiloLogic