), a Lacedaemonian, son of Aracus, was the founder of Tarentum about B. C. 708.
The legend, as collected from Justin, and from Antiochus and Ephorus in Strabo, is as follows. When the Lacedaemonians set forth on their first Messenian war, they bound themselves by an oath not to return home till they had brought the contest to a successful issue.
But nine years passed away, and in the tenth wives sent to complain of their state of widowhood, and to point out, as its consequence, that their country would have no new generation of citizens to defend it.
By the advice therefore of Aracus, the young men, who had grown up since the beginning of the war, and had never taken the oath, were sent home to become fathers of children by the Spartan virgins; and those who were thus born were called Παρθενίαι
(sons of the maidens).
According to Theopompus (ap. Ath.
vi. p. 271e, d ; wives to Helots; and, though this statement more probably refers to the second war, it seems likely that the Partheniae were the offspring of some marriages of disparagement, which the necessity of the period had induced the Spartans to permit.
The notion of Manso, that the name was given in derision to those who had declined the expedition, shrinking from war like maidens, seems less deserving of notice.
As they grew up, they were looked down upon by their fellow-citizens, and were excluded from certain privileges. at this, they formed a conspiracy under Phalanthus, one of their number, against the government, and when their design was detected, they were allowed to go forth and found a colony under his guidance and with the sanction of the Delphic god. Pausanias tells us that Phalanthus, when setting out on this expedition, was told by an oracle from in that place where rain should fall on him under a clear sky (αἴθρα
). On his arrival in Italy, he conquered the barbarians in battle, but was unable to take any of their cities or their land. Wearied out with his fruitless efforts, and cast down under the belief that the oracle had meant to express an impossibility, he was lying one day with his head on his wife's lap, as she strove to comfort him, it flashed upon his mind that, as her name was Aethra (Αἴθρα
), the mysterious prediction was at length fulfilled. On the succeeding night he captured Tarentum, one of the largest and most flourishing towns on the coast.
The mass of the inhabitants took refuge, according to Justin, in Brundusium, and hither Phalanthus himself fled afterwards, when he was driven out from his own colony by a sedition.
He ended his days in exile, but, when he was at the point of death, he desired the Brundusians to reduce his remains to dust and sprinkle it in the agora of Tarentum; by which means, he told them, Apollo had predicted that they might recover their country.
The oracle, however, had named this as the method of securing Tarentum to the Partheniae for ever. (Strab. vi. pp. 278-280, 282,; Just. 3.4
, xx. l; Paus. 10.10
; Aristot. Pol. 5.7
, ed. Bekk.; Diod. 15.66
; Dionys. Fragm.
17.1, 2; Hor. Casm.
2.6 ; Serv. ad Viry. Aen.
3.551 Heyne, Excurs.
xiv. ad Virq. l.c. ;
Clint. F. H.
vol. i. p. 174, vol. ii. p. 410, note u; Thirlwall's Greece,
vol. i. p. 352, &c.; Müll. Dor.
1.6.12, 7.10, 3.5.7, 6.1.)