Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
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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]

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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] 6.3.5

The remainder of the country of the Iapygii is very fair, notwithstanding unfavourable appearances; for although, for the most part, it appears rugged, yet when it is broken up the soil is found to be deep; and although it lacks water, yet it appears well-suited for pasture, and is furnished with trees. At one time it was thickly inhabited throughout its whole extent, and possessed thirteen cities, but now it is so depopulated that, with the exception of Tarentum and Brentesium, [Note] they only deserve the name of hamlets. They say that the Salentini are a colony of Cretans. Here is the temple of Minerva, [Note] which formerly was rich, and the rock called Acra Iapygia, [Note] which juts out far into the sea towards the rising of the sun in winter, [Note] and turning, as it were, towards

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Cape Lacinium, which lies opposite to it on the west, it closes the entrance of the Gulf of Tarentum, as on the other side, the Ceraunian Mountains, together with the said Cape, close the entrance of the Ionian Gulf, the run across is about 700 stadia from that, [Note] both to the Ceraunian Mountains and to Cape Lacinium. [Note] In coasting along the shore from Tarentum to Brentesium there are 600 stadia as far as the little city of Baris, which is at the present time called Veretum, [Note] and is situated on the extremities of the Salentine territory; the approach to it from Tarentum is much easier on foot [Note] than by sea. Thence to Leuca are 80 stadia; this too is but a small village, in which there is shown a well of fetid water, and the legend runs, that when Hercules drove out the last of the giants from Phlegra in Campania, who were called Leuternians, some fled and were buried here, and that from their blood a spring issues to supply the well; on this account likewise the coast is called the Leuternian coast. [Note] From Leuca to Hydrus, [Note]

a small town, 150 stadia. From thence to Brentesium 400, and the like distance also [from Hydrus] to the island Saso, [Note] which is situated almost in the midst of the course from Epirus to Brentesium; and therefore when vessels are unable to obtain a direct passage they run to the left from Saso to Hydrus, and thence watching for a favourable wind they steer towards the haven of Brentesium, or the passengers disembarking proceed on foot by a shorter way through Rudiæ, a Grecian city, where the poet Ennius was born. [Note] The district which we have followed by sea from

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Tarentum to Brentesium is like a peninsula. The road by land from Brentesium to Tarentum is but a day's journey for a light person on foot, it constitutes the isthmus of the said peninsula, which people in general call Messapia, lapygia, Calabria, or Salentinum, without being at all particular; but some, as we have said before, do make a distinction. Thus have we described the towns on the sea-coast.

Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 6.3.3 Str. 6.3.5 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 6.3.7

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