At one time the Tarantini were exceedingly powerful, that is, when they enjoyed a democratic government; for they not only had acquired the largest fleet of all peoples in that part of the world but were wont to send forth an army of thirty thousand infantry, three thousand cavalry, and one thousand commanders of cavalry. Moreover, the Pythagorean philosophy was embraced by them, but especially by Archytas,1
who presided over the city for a considerable time. But later, because of their prosperity, luxury prevailed to such an extent that the public festivals celebrated among them every year were more in number than the days of the year; and in consequence of this they also were poorly governed. One evidence of their bad policies is the fact that they employed foreign generals; for they sent for Alexander2
the Molossian to lead them in their war against the Messapians and Leucanians, and, still before that, for Archidamus,3
the son of Agesilaüs, and, later on, for Cleonymus,4
and then for Pyrrhus,6
at the time when they formed a league with him against the Romans. And yet even to those whom they called in they could not yield a ready obedience, and would set them at enmity. At all events, it was out of enmity that Alexander tried to transfer to Thurian territory the general festival assembly of all Greek peoples in that part of the world—the assembly which was wont to meet at Heracleia in Tarantine territory, and that he began to urge that a place for the meetings be fortified on the Acalandrus River. Furthermore, it is said that the unhappy end which befell him7
was the result of their ingratitude. Again, about the time of the wars with Hannibal, they were deprived of their freedom, although later they received a colony of Romans, and are now living at peace and better than before. In their war against the Messapians for the possession of Heracleia, they had the co-operation of the king of the Daunians and the king of the Peucetians.