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Taranto (Tarantino: Tarde; Old Italian: Tarento; Latin: Tarentum; Ancient Greek: Τάρᾱς, Tárās; Modern Greek: Τάραντας, Tárantas) is a coastal city in Apulia, Southern Italy. It is the capital of the province of Taranto, serving as an important commercial port as well as the main Italian naval base. Founded by Spartans in the 8th century BC during the period of Greek colonisation, Taranto was among the most important poleis in Magna Graecia, becoming a cultural, economic and military power that gave birth to philosophers, strategists, writers and athletes


  • And next Tarentum’s bay,
    Named, if report be true, from Hercules,
    Is seen; and opposite lifts up her head
    The goddess of Lacinia; and the heights
    Appear of Caulon, and the dangerous rocks
    Of Sylaceum. Then far off we see
    Trinacrian Ætna rising from the waves;
    And now we hear the ocean’s awful roar,
    The breakers dashing on the rocks, the moan
    Of broken voices on the shore. The deeps
    Leap up, and sand is mixed with boiling foam.
    “Charybdis!” cries Anchises; “lo, the cliffs,
    The dreadful rocks that Helenus foretold!
    Save us,—bear off, my men! With equal stroke
    Bend on your oars!” No sooner said than done.
    With groaning rudder Palinurus turns
    The prow to the left, and the whole cohort strain
    With oar and sail, and seek a southern course.
    The curving wave one moment lifts us up
    Skyward, then sinks us down as in the shades
    Of death. Three times amid their hollow caves
    The cliffs resound; three times we saw the foam
    Dashed,—that the stars hung dripping wet with dew.
    Meanwhile, abandoned by the wind and sun,
    Weary, and ignorant of our course, we are thrown
    Upon the Cyclops’ shore.
    • Virgil, Æneid, Book III (tr. C. P. Cranch)
  • Tarentum calls
    On you her wooers, no unworthy bride;
    Chief harbour, richest mart of Italy.
    Whither Philanthus, in Laconia's prime,
    Brought the first Spartan exiles: whither sailed
    Arion with his music o'er the main.
    The port of Epirote and Grecian kings;
    The haunt of old Pythagorean lore.
    The same soft breezes blow around her towers,
    The same soil teems about her terraces,—
    Flowing with wines of Aulon, fruits and oil,—
    The same wool thickens on her hundred hills,
    As fleet the coursers on her emerald meads,
    Her seas are purple with as deep a dye,
    As when, in earlier days of far renown,
    Queen of the southern shores she held the ships
    Of Rome beyond Lacinia, or displayed
    The phalanx of white shields at Asculum.
    Nor is the spirit of our warriors dead,
    Beneath their bonds; the City, with her capes
    Stretching like arms to Carthage, calls on you
    To set her free.
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