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Tarentum (Taras, modern Taranto), located on the southern coast of Apulia, Italy, was a Greek and then Roman city. Controlling a large area of Magna Graecia and heading the Italiote League, Tarentum, with its excellent harbour, was a strategically significant city throughout antiquity. Thus, it would play a pivotal role in the wars between Pyrrhus and Rome in the 3rd century BCE and again during the Second Punic War when Hannibal occupied southern Italy. While little remains today of ancient Tarentum's buildings, the city's museum boasts one of the largest collections of Greek pottery in the world and has many fine bronzes, gold jewellery and floor mosaics.
Tarentum, or Taras as it was first known in Greek, was a colony founded by Sparta in the 8th century BCE as part of the wave of Greek colonization of the region which would become known as Magna Graecia. According to tradition the city was founded in 706 BCE by the Spartan hero Phalanthus. The first colonists were also said to be the offspring of Spartan women and helots, the semi-enslaved agricultural workers who served their Spartan masters. Archaeological evidence, though, points to a much earlier Neolithic settlement followed by a Mycenaean presence in the area during the Bronze Age.
Goods & coinage from Tarentum have been excavated all along the southern & Adriatic coasts of Italy.
A Thriving City
Located on the coast and with the best harbour in the gulf of Tarentum, the city would prosper and become one of the most important commercial centres in the region. The growth of the city did bring it into conflict with local rivals such as Metapontum at the other end of the gulf, but Tarentum won important victories over local tribes (the Messapians and Peucetians) in 490 and 480 BCE. These battles were commemorated in dedications made at Delphi, although peace did not last long as the Messapians inflicted a serious defeat on Tarentum c. 475 BCE in a battle described by Herodotus as a 'great bloodbath' (7.170.3). A consequence of the city's military weakness was an overthrow of the ruling class, which was replaced by a system of limited democracy.
Tarentum's fortunes improved by the end of the 5th century BCE and saw the city grow to some 530 hectares and increase its outlying territory, an expansion aided by the decline of long-time rival Croton further down the coast of southern Italy. Goods and coinage from Tarentum (including silver staters with their distinctive male figure riding a dolphin) have been excavated all along the southern and Adriatic coasts of Italy illustrating the city's prosperity and trading capacity. Large temple sanctuaries and cemeteries also attest to the growth of the city during the latter half of the 5th century BCE. The city even founded its own colony to the west, Heraclea (Herakleia), in 433 BCE. Around 400 BCE Heraclea became the seat of the Italiote League, an association of southern Italian city-states, which was dominated by Tarentum.
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During the 4th century BCE Tarentum government was dominated by Pythagorean thought (Pythagoras had established his school further down the coast) and one man, in particular, Archytas (c. 400-350 BCE). The celebrated mathematician, Pythagorean and statesman was elected general seven times and probably forged an alliance with Syracuse, the powerful city-state in Sicily, which allowed Tarentum to expand further at a time when Dionysius I, the tyrant of Syracuse, was busy sacking cities in southern Italy. In the latter half of the 4th century BCE Tarentum fought to maintain its position of regional dominance and face the ever-rising threat of the Messapians and Lucanians by hiring mercenary armies, often led by generals from Sparta and Epirus. By the 3rd century BCE, though, a much more dangerous enemy was on the prowl in Magna Graecia: Rome.
Pyrrhus & Rome
Fortunately for Tarentum a powerful ally was on hand to save them from Roman occupation. The great general and king of Epirus, Pyrrhus, responded to a call for help from the city when it was under imminent Roman attack in 280 BCE. Pyrrhus crossed the Adriatic with his army of 25,000 infantry and, employing 20 war elephants and a superior cavalry force of 3,000, he won battles against Roman armies at Heraclea in 280 BCE and Ausculum in 279 BCE. The victories, nevertheless, came at a high cost in lives on both sides and these battles were not decisive, hence the lasting expression 'a Pyrrhic victory'. More importantly for Tarentum, Pyrrhus was soon forced to leave the region and meet the increasing threat from Carthage to his interests in Sicily. With the field now clear, Rome occupied the city in 270 BCE and thereafter Tarentum became an ally of the peninsula's dominant power.
Hannibal & Rome
The region once more became the most important battlefield in the Mediterranean when Hannibal invaded Italy in the Second Punic War (218-201 BCE). Tarentum, like most of the southern Italian cities, sided with Carthage but the acropolis and harbour of Tarentum were, nevertheless, occupied by Rome. Hannibal desperately sought a port from which his army could be resupplied from Africa but he could not take Tarentum and managed only to occupy the outer town.
During the chaos of the Punic Wars a brief attempt was made at regaining the city's independence in 213 BCE when a number of aristocrats overthrew the government. It was a short-lived rebellion and the city once again came fully under Roman control in 209 BCE when it was captured by Quintus Fabius Maximus. When Scipio Africanus sailed to Africa and attacked Carthage itself in 203 BCE, Hannibal was recalled from Italy for a last-ditch defence of the homeland. Tarentum was left at the mercy of Rome. With its lands greatly reduced and governed directly by a Roman praetor, the city eventually regained its former status as a formal ally c. 180 BCE. With the extension of the via Appia to Brundisium further to the south-east, Tarentum lost its position as the primary port in southern Italy.
Tarentum trundled on as a modest town in the Roman Republic and in 122 BCE the colony of Neptunia was founded which would become part of Tarentum proper in 89 BCE. In 59 BCE plots of Tarentum land were given to veterans and the city became ever more Romanised. The city still produced products for export such as wool, textiles, Tyrian purple dye, and foodstuffs. Epigraphic evidence, the density of private housing and presence of several large villas demonstrate that the city remained economically active and relatively prosperous well into the imperial period with Emperor Nero (r. 54-68 CE) granting it colony status.
Both Jews and Christians were a strong presence in Tarentum from the 1st century CE onwards with a bishopric established by the 4th century CE or earlier. During the Gothic invasions the town was, notwithstanding its new fortifications, occupied by Totila, king of the Ostrogoths (r. 541-552 CE). The city's excellent harbour never ceased to attract a naval presence when the opportunity arose and Constans II, the Byzantine emperor, sent a fleet to Italy which landed at Tarentum in 661 CE. In 668 CE Tarentum, still, as ever, a strategically useful acquisition for invaders, entered the medieval period with a bang when the Lombard duke Romauld sacked the city.
Tarentum once had large sacred complexes with impressive temples but due to the fact that the city has been continuously occupied since antiquity most of the large scale ancient architecture has long since been dismantled and reused elsewhere in more modern buildings. An exception are the two massive columns once belonging to an archaic temple dedicated to Poseidon. These columns now stand in the corner of the municipal square (not their original location) and their massive size hints at the enormity of this now lost temple.
What Tarentum may lack in architecture is more than compensated for in the richness of the artefacts excavated at the site, the surrounding countryside, and the harbour itself. Many of the finest and best-preserved examples of black-figure pottery and red figure pottery have been discovered at the site with Taranto's magnificent MARTA museum possessing a collection which rivals that of Athens and the Vatican in scope and artistry. Gold jewellery in the form of diadems, rings, earrings and necklaces with minute and elaborate filigree and granulation decoration are another rich source of evidence which points to the skill of Tarentum's metal workers and the wealth of the city in the 4th-3rd century BCE. Many of the artefacts are from tombs and none is more interesting than the Tomb of the Athlete, a tomb of a Tarentum victor at the Olympic Games complete with his discus, weights, and javelin heads and, touchingly, the prize he famously won in life, the black-figure amphora given to all winners.
Special mention should be made of the many fine floor mosaics from the city's grander Roman residences. The largest and best preserved is a late-2nd or early 3rd century CE mosaic with four main panels depicting an abduction of a nymph and additional scenes of a leopard, lion and tiger hunting. Smaller side panels show birds and fruit.
Another splendid floor mosaic has purely geometrical and floral shapes with a large central circle whose folded velarium (curtain) is given an almost three-dimensional quality by the use of variously shaded tesserae pieces. This perfectly square mosaic dates to the 2nd century CE and belonged to a Roman house or domus in central Tarentum.
Finally, one of the star pieces from ancient Taranto and one which welcomes visitors to the archaeological museum is a bronze statue of Zeus. Dating to c. 530 BCE, the figure once held a thunderbolt in one hand and an eagle in the other. The statue was originally placed on a marble Doric capital and stood in a sanctuary in the city dedicated to the head of the Olympian gods, a potent reminder of the Greek origins of one of southern Italy's wealthiest and most influential ancient cities.
Tarentum Genealogy (in Allegheny County, PA)
NOTE: Additional records that apply to Tarentum are also found through the Allegheny County and Pennsylvania pages.
Tarentum Birth Records
Tarentum Cemetery Records
Sacred Heart Cemetery US Gen Web Archives
Saint Clement Cemetery Billion Graves
St. Clement Cemetery US Gen Web Archives
Tarentum Census Records
United States Federal Census, 1790-1940 Family Search
Tarentum Church Records
Tarentum City Directories
Tarentum Death Records
Tarentum Immigration Records
Tarentum Land Records
Tarentum Map Records
Map of Tarentum, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, 1901. Library of Congress
Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Tarentum, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, February 1897 Library of Congress
Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Tarentum, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, October 1891 Library of Congress
Tarentum Marriage Records
Tarentum Newspapers and Obituaries
Offline Newspapers for Tarentum
According to the US Newspaper Directory, the following newspapers were printed, so there may be paper or microfilm copies available. For more information on how to locate offline newspapers, see our article on Locating Offline Newspapers.
Allegheny Valley Times. (Tarentum, Allegheny Co., Pa.) 1881-1888
Evening Telegram. (Tarentum, Pa.) 1914-1923
Tarentum Telegram. (Tarentum, Pa.) 1896-1914
Valley Daily News. (Tarentum, Pa.) 1904-1968
Tarentum Probate Records
Tarentum School Records
Tarentum Tax Records
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History Time Line
(Valley New Dispatch – July 23, 1995)
1734 – Shawnee Indians inhabit Allegheny Valley.
1795 – West Deer, East Deer, Frazer, Springdale, Springdale Township, Cheswick, Fawn, Tarentum, Brackenridge, Harrison, known as Deer Township.
1805 – Highway from Sharpsburg to Freeport laid out oil discovered.
1821 – Burtner House built.
1826 – Construction begins on canal through the Valley.
1829 – Canal begins operation in Tarentum.
1836 – Deer Township split into East and West Deer West Deer remains today as it was.
1842 – Tarentum withdraws from East Deer.
1852 – First row of houses built on Federal Street by the Penn Salt Manufacturing Co. for employees.
1853 – Canal filled in to make a bed for railroad tracks Harrison family settled above Natrona.
1858 – Fawn withdraws from East Deer, but still contains modern-day Harrison and Brackenridge.
1860 – 800 men employed by Penn Salt Natrona population reaches 1,870.
1862 – More than 200 Natrona men enlist to serve in Union Army.
1863 – Harrison secedes from Fawn on February 7.
1868 – Harrison population reported at 3,000.
1880 – Potts Mansion built.
1888 – 72 hours a week, $1 a day wage scale at Penn Salt.
1889 – West Penn Press organized and located at North Canal Street, prints Natrona News.
1895 – First trolley runs through Natrona, Tarentum Traction Company.
1896 – Fire destroys metals refinery at Penn Salt Fidelity Glass Company begins in Brackenridge.
1901 – Brackenridge secedes from Harrison First National Bank of Natrona organized, located on Federal Street.
1901 – Allegheny Iron and Steel begins operation.
1902 – Pond Street School built.
1904 – Valley Daily News organized by Charles Howe.
1906 – Valley hospital organized and operates in West Tarentum.
1907 – Natrona Volunteer Fire Company No. 1 formed.
1907 – Steel industry work hours are 12-hour days, 24 hours every second Sunday.
1918 – Fire destroys Penn Salt flu epidemic kills hundreds.
1920 – First fire truck purchased by Natrona Fire Company for $12,500 first 40 feet of concrete completed at Natrona Dam.
1921 – Work on Natrona Dam halted due to lack of money Harbrack High School opens, 375 wooden steps built from Natrona to top of hill to the school Citizens Bank of Natrona opens.
1923 – Harrison Township sanitary system partially operational.
1927 – Lock No, 4 on Allegheny River officially opens to general river traffic Birdville Post Office name changed to Natrona Heights Post Office.
1929 – Birdville School built.
1930 – Allegheny Steel Company merges with West Penn Steel Company first air mail pickup at Natrona Air Field Natrona Citizens National Bank merges with the First National Bank of Natrona.
1931 – Harrison Township tax levy at 7.5 mills.
1940 – Buses take over trolley line Natrona storm sewer given OK to run from hill through Chestnut and Garfield Streets down the alley to the river.
Nick J. Petrishen, owner of Nick Chevrolet in Tarentum, dies at 77
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The night before he suffered a stroke that would ultimately take his life, Nick Petrishen Jr. went with his only son to see the movie &ldquoFord v Ferrari.&rdquo
&ldquoHe really enjoyed it the whole time,&rdquo said his son Nick S. Petrishen, 50, of Natrona Heights. &ldquoThe ironic part is the local Chevy man has two strokes after the &lsquoFord v Ferrari&rsquo movie.&rdquo
Nick J. Petrishen Jr., owner, operator and vice president of Nick Chevrolet in Tarentum for nearly 60 years, died at home on Nov. 29. He was 77.
A larger-than-life character known for befriending the people who patronized his dealership and his generosity in giving to community causes, Petrishen also was an automobile enthusiast who built push trucks, which is a truck with a push bar on the front to get a race car started.
He also regularly attended races from Lernerville Speedway in Sarver to Daytona Beach, Fla.
&ldquoHe liked old muscle cars, anything that could go fast. Dale Earnhardt (Sr.) was his favorite,&rdquo Petrishen said. &ldquoHe was close with a lot of the local drivers. After he had his (initial) strokes, he was in a wheelchair, and every time that I took him they would announce to the crowd that he was in attendance.&rdquo
&ldquoWe just took him to a race at Lernerville, and several of the drivers actually came up before the race and sat with him and talked with him in the stands,&rdquo said his daughter Michele Petrishen, 54, of Bemus Point, N.Y.
Nick Petrishen Jr., like his four sisters and one brother, started working in his family&rsquos business at Power City Motors in Springdale as a teenager. He had little choice in the matter, but he was excited to do it nonetheless, settling in as a salesman.
&ldquoHe definitely was born and bred for this,&rdquo said his son Nick S. Petrishen. &ldquoHe used to tell everybody that he had the best job in the world because he got paid his whole life to (BS) as a car salesman.&rdquo
Mr. Petrishen had a big heart and liked to help others out, financially supporting high school athletics as well as Little League teams. He also gave support to local police and fire departments and other charitable organizations.
&ldquoAfter his first stroke, one of the stories that one of the EMS guys shared with me down at the hospital was, &lsquoYour dad donated to ambulance services but he didn&rsquot do it by mail, he did it personally,&rsquo &rdquo Michele Petrishen said. &ldquoHe would personally hand them a check.&rdquo
His children agreed that their dad had a sharp sense of humor, and that helped him survive his first two strokes.
Nick S. Petrishen recalled a story about how his father outfitted a life-sized mannequin of Mr. Goodwrench at the dealership with a hat, glasses, fake gun and a lit cigarette. That startled a cleaning worker at the dealership.
&ldquoAnd the story goes that he stood there with his hands in the air for about five minutes until the cigarette fell out of his mouth,&rdquo Nick S. Petrishen said.
Another daughter, Bridgette Ladie, 51, of Buffalo Township, remembered taking her dad to a Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons concert. She said her dad always listened to oldies.
&ldquoI remember being with my dad driving a white Caprice convertible, and I would be in the front seat with my head on his lap, and the top down and listening to oldies. And I would just fall asleep,&rdquo she said.
Mr. Petrishen is survived by his wife of 55 years, Loretta Susan (Szymkowiak) Petrishen children Michele Petrishen of Bemus Point, N.Y., Bridgette Ladie of Buffalo Township, and Nick S. Petrishen of Natrona Heights three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren and siblings Carol Ann Koprivnikar of Natrona Heights, Rose Mary Koprivnikar of Natrona Heights, Janice Langham of Lower Burrell, John J. Petrishen of Lower Burrell and Sue Zaleski of Natrona Heights.
Paul Guggenheimer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at 724-226-7706 or [email protected]
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Tarentum history foundation to mark 35th anniversary
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To commemorate 35 years since its founding, the Tarentum History and Landmarks Foundation Inc. will host a dinner May 30.
The foundation, chartered and incorporated May 11, 1973, researches and compiles local history, foundation Executive Director Robert Lucas said. He said the foundation is important because it provides "a thorough insight into the history" of the area.
May 11 also is the birth date of Henry Marie Brackenridge, who founded Tarentum. The town was laid out in 1829, Lucas said. Although the first settlers started moving into the Valley in the 1790s, Lucas said it wasn't considered safe from Indian massacres until 1796.
The foundation publishes a quarterly magazine, the Tarentum Times, which is sent to its members. Cindy Homburg, a member of the board of directors, said every issue contains "different stories of old Tarentum and pictures of old Tarentum."
The foundation also compiles newspaper tear sheets, which eventually are turned into microfilm. It also keeps genealogy files, puts landmark plaques on buildings and collects photographs of the area, Lucas said.
Lucas said it's important for residents and foundation members alike to put identification on the back of photographs. Residents can donate historical materials, including photographs, to the foundation by contacting Lucas.
The foundation collects historical materials, but it does not collect artifacts, Lucas said.
"Primarily, we focus on the history and the people, and their contributions in northeastern Allegheny County," he said.
Lucas, a Tarentum resident, said the foundation's members are scattered all across the nation. More than 700 people have joined since 1973, and some live as far away as Canada, Alaska, Hawaii and California, he said.
Both members and the public are invited to the dinner, which will be catered by Robin & Company of Freeport. This will be the first dinner the foundation has held in five years.
After dinner, a slide show of Tarentum 100 years ago will be shown. Memorabilia and Homburg's own postcards will be on display.
The foundation does not own property. Lucas handles the foundation's finances from his home office, and board meetings are held at the First United Presbyterian Church, 913 Lock St. Foundation members elect board members.
"It's a fun, fun organization," Homburg said, "and it's great for people who love history and want to preserve it." Additional Information:
Who: Tarentum History and Landmarks Foundation Inc.
What: Dinner to commemorate the foundation's 35th anniversary.
Where: First United Presbyterian Church, 913 Lock St., Tarentum.
Details: Tickets are $10 -- and must be purchased by today.
They are available at the Community Library of Allegheny Valley's Harrison and Tarentum locations.
Tickets also are available by mailing a check today to the Tarentum History and Landmarks Foundation at P.O. Box 1776 Tarentum, PA 15084. Mailed requests must be received by Tuesday. Additional Information:
How to join
Those interested in joining can mail their annual $10 membership fee to the Tarentum History and Landmarks Foundation Inc. at P.O. Box 1776 Tarentum, PA 15084.
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Tour of historic Tarentum landmarks to mark borough's 175th year
Admission: Free, but reservations are recommended. Call 724-612-0076. A second bus tour will be start at 1 p.m. if reservations warrant it.
Tarentum has accumulated plenty of landmarks in its 175-year history.
And on Saturday, those landmarks will have stories to tell.
A bus tour of 15 Tarentum historic landmarks will start at 10 a.m. at Riverview Park's snack shack.
Hostess and local historian Cindy Homburg will guide those taking the journey to the landmarks, and narrate the backgrounds of each.
"The tour will take approximately two hours," Homburg said. "We will be able to go into some, but not all, of the landmarks."
One stop will be the Malarkey House on East 10th Avenue, built in 1892 and now the home of the Paz, Paz and Paz law office.
"It was the Walters Funeral Home from the 1940s until our family bought it in '84," said attorney John Paz. "I knew it was a very old building. We didn't buy it for its history, but we've restored it."
Paz has installed Willliamsburg-style historic wallpaper prints, enclosed the front porch and placed furniture to complement the French Empire-era architecture.
The old dining room has been restored as a conference room.
"There would be a button to summon the maid," Paz said. "There was a ballroom on the third floor, and there was a stairway to the roof."
The Malarkey House brick was provided by the McFetridge Brick Co. of Creighton.
"The place is gorgeous," Homburg said. "After the Malarkey family built it, they went out West, but returned to Tarentum."
Other buildings with historic landmark designation plaques include the Pollock Masonic Lodge on Lock Street, built in 1907.
The lodge was named after District Deputy Grand Master Alexander M. Pollock.
"It's about the only landmark still used for the reason it was built," Homburg said.
One of the other landmarks is the Lardin House Hotel, located at the corner of Fourth Avenue and Wood Street.
One of Tarentum's earliest hotels, it was built in 1864 by Daniel Lardin.
Notable guests there included President William Howard Taft, frontiersman Kit Carson and temperance advocate Carrie Nation, who lectured an audience at the Tarentum Free Methodist Church on the sins of alcohol and smoking.
John B. Ford, founder of the American plate glass industry and Ford City borough, stayed at the Lardin House once he found that the sand on the banks of the Allegheny River was conducive to glass making.
Other stops on the tour will include the Tarentum railroad station the old trolley and bus barn that now is the home of Highland Tire the old YMCA the Grandview Elementary School, formerly Tarentum High School the Chapman Drug Store, corner of Lock and Fifth the Kennedy Bank at Lock and Fifth the Humes House on East Ninth the Kennedy House on Lock Street the Riverview Park monument the blockhouse where Bull Creek meets the Allegheny River and the historic designation of Tarentum's founder, Judge Henry Marie Brackenridge, at the First Commonwealth Bank, corner of East Sixth and Corbet.
The tour is part of Tarentum's 175th anniversary celebration.
George Guido is a freelance writer.
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About the Alle-Kiski Historical Society
The Alle-Kiski Historical Society, located in Tarentum, PA, is a local organization dedicated to studying and preserving the history of Tarentum. The Historical Society fosters an appreciation of the past, with an emphasis on local history. In addition to collecting and preserving historical artifacts, photographs, and personal stories, the Historical Society conducts research into local Allegheny County families and businesses, which they present to the public through exhibits. The Historical Society also provides public historical records.
Saints Peter and Paul Byzantine Catholic Church Tarentum, PA
On the birth date of SS. Peter and Paul Church, July 3, 1918, about 75 families of Rusyn and Hungarian origin met in the Borough of Brackenridge. The parish was legally incorporated on July 19, 1918. Shortly afterwards the parish purchased a church and house on Mile Lock Lane in Brackenridge.
The first resident pastor, Father Gabriel Chopey, was appointed in 1921. The parish flourished. Various parish groups were organized, including the altar and rosary societies, choral society and men’s club. As the congregation grew, they decided to transfer the site of the church from Brackenridge to West Tarentum. In 1929 the parish purchased St. Peter’s Hall and its adjoining property on West Eighth Avenue in Tarentum. They converted this building into the parish church which served the parish for the next 25 years.
In 1952 Bishop Daniel Ivancho appointed Father Michael G. Pipik as pastor with instructions to build a new church in an appropriate area. After a lengthy search, the parish was fortunate to obtain the Smith Estate at 339 East Tenth Avenue and adjacent property. The first project was to remodel the home, which became the parish rectory. It was blessed on November 15, 1953.
Ground was broken for the new church on April 4, 1954. The church was solemnly dedicated by Bishop Nicholas Elko on May 6, 1956. Bishop Elko returned to the church on June 8, 1958, to bless the stained glass windows, wall murals and marble shrines. On May 4, 1969 the parish celebrated its 50th Anniversary when Bishop Stephen J. Kocisko (at that time Archbishop-designate of the newly-created Archeparchy) blessed the new marble Holy Table (altar) of the church.
Members of the parish reside throughout the four-county Allegheny Valley: Allegheny, Armstrong, Butler and Westmoreland counties. The parish complex is located along East Tenth Avenue, which is the primary thoroughfare connecting Natrona Heights, Brackenridge and Tarentum. It is less than a block from Tarentum Bridge Road (formerly Exit 14 of the Route 28 Allegheny Valley expressway), which crosses the Allegheny River to New Kensington, Lower Burrell and Arnold. The church is visible both from the exit ramps of Route 28 and from the Tarentum Bridge while crossing from New Kensington.
In recent years, substantial effort has been undertaken to maintain and update parish properties. New heating and air conditioning systems have been installed in the church and rectory. In 1998 new carpeting was installed in the church and protective glass was placed on all the stained glass windows. The rectory has a new roof, bathrooms and flooring.
SS. Peter and Paul Church, with its sides of colored sandstone and red slate roof, remains a neighborhood and community gem.
Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) William Smith, LLD, Ed.
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Tarentum was a Greek city, a colony of Sparta, founded within a few years after the two Achaean colonies of Sybaris and Crotona. The circumstances that led to its foundation are related with some variation by Antiochus and Ephorus (both cited by Strabo), but both authors agree in the main fact that the colonists were a body of young men, born during the First Messenian War under circumstances which threw over their birth a taint of illegitimacy, on which account they were treated with contempt by the other citizens and after an abortive attempt at creating a revolution at Sparta, they determined to emigrate in a body under a leader named Phalanthus. They were distinguished by the epithet of Partheniae, in allusion to their origin. Phalanthus, who was apparently himself one of the disparaged class, and had been the chief of the conspirators at Sparta, after consulting the oracle at Delphi, became the leader and founder of the new colony. (Antiochus, ap. Strab. vi. p.278 Ephorus, Ib. p. 279 Serv. ad Aen. 3.551 Diod. 15.66 Justin, 3.4 Scymn. Ch. 332 .) Both Antiochus and Ephorus represent them as establishing themselves without difficulty on the spot, and received in a friendly manner by the natives and this is far more probable than the statement of Pausanias, according to which they found themselves in constant warfare and it was not till after a long struggle that they were able to make themselves masters of Tarentum. ( Paus. 10.10.6 .) The same author represents that city as previously occupied by the indigenous tribes, and already a great and powerful city, but this is highly improbable. The name, however, is probably of native origin, and seems to have been derived front that of the small river or stream which always continued to be known as the Taras though, as usual, the Greeks derived it from an eponymous hero named Taras, who was represented as a son of Neptune and a nymph of the country. (Paus. Ib. § 8.) It is certain that the hero Taras continued to be an object of special worship at Tarentum, while Phalanthus, who was revered as their Oekist, was frequently associated with him, and gradually became the subject of many legends of a very mythical character, in some of which he appears to have been confounded with Taras himself. ( Paus. 10.10 . § § 6--8, 13.10 Serv. ad Aen. l.c.) Nevertheless, there is no reason to doubt the historical character of Phalanthus, or the Lacedaemonian origin of Tarentum, which was confirmed by numerous local names and religious observances still retained there down to a very late period. (Pol. 8.30, 35.) The Roman poets also abound in allusions to this origin of the Tarentines. ( Hor. Carm. 3.5.56 , 2.6. 11 Ovid. Met. 15.50, &c.) The date of the foundation of Tarentum is given by Hieronymus as B.C. 708, and this, which is in accordance with the circumstances related in connection with it, is probably correct, though no other author has mentioned the precise date. (Hieron. Chron. ad Ol. xviii.)
The history of Tarentum, for the first two centuries of its existence, is, like that of most other cities of Magna Graecia, almost wholly unknown. But the main fact is well attested that it attained to great power and prosperity, though apparently at first overshadowed by the superior power of the Achaean cities, so that it was not till a later period that it assumed the predominant position among the cities of Magna Graecia, which it ultimately attained. There can be no doubt that it owed this prosperity mainly to the natural advantages of its situation. ( Scymn. Ch. 332 - 336 Strab. vi. p.278 .) Though its territory was not so fertile, or so well adapted for the growth of grain as those of Metapontum and Siris, it was admirably suited for the growth of olives, and its pastures produced wool of the finest quality, while its port, or inner sea as it was called, abounded in shell-fish of all descriptions, among which the Murex, which produced the celebrated purple dye, was the most important and valuable. But it was especially the excellence of its port to which Tarentum owed its rapid rise to opulence and power. This was not only landlocked and secure, but was the only safe harbour of any extent on the whole shores of the Tarentine gulf and as neither Brundusium nor Hydruntum, on the opposite side of the Messapian peninsula, had as yet attained to any eminence, or fallen into the hands of a seafaring people, the port of Tarentum became the chief emporium for the commerce of all this part of Italy. (Pol. 10.1 Flor. 1.18.3 .) The story of Arion, as related by Herodotus ( 1.24 ) indicates the existence of extensive commercial relations with Corinth and other cities of Greece as early as the reign of Periander, B.C. 625--585.
As the Tarentines gradually extended their power over the adjoining territories, they naturally came into frequent collision with the native tribes of the interior,--the Messapians and Peucetians and the first events of their history recorded to us relate to their wars with these nations. Their offerings at Delphi noticed by Pausanias ( 10.10.6 , 13.10 ), recorded victories over both these nations, in one of which it appears that Opis, making of the Iapygians, who had come to the assistance of the Peucetians, was slain but we have no knowledge of the dates or circumstances of these battles. It would appear, however, that the Tarentines were continually gaining ground, and making themselves masters of the Messapian towns one after the other, until their progress was checked by a great disaster, their own forces, together with those of the Rhegians, who had been sent to their assistance, being totally defeated by the barbarians with great slaughter. ( Hdt. 7.170 Diod. 11.52 .). So heavy was their [p. 2.1096] loss that Herodotus, without stating the numbers, says it was the greatest slaughter of Greeks that had occurred up to his time. The loss seems to have fallen especially upon the nobles and wealthier citizens, so that it became the occasion of a political revolution, and the government, which had previously been an aristocracy, became thenceforth a pure democracy. (Arist. Pol. 5.3.) Of the internal condition and constitution of Tarentum previously to this time, we know scarcely anything, but it seems probable that its institutions were at first copied from those of the parent city of Sparta. Aristotle speaks of its government as a πολίτεια, in the sense of a mixed government or commonwealth while Herodotus incidentally notices a king of Tarentum (3.156), not long before the Persian War, who was doubtless a king after the Spartan model. The institutions of a democratic tendency noticed with commendation by Aristotle ( Aristot. Pol. 6.5 ) probably belong to the later and democratic period of the constitution. We hear but little also of Tarentum in connection with the revolutions arising out of the influence exercised by the Pythagoreans: that sect had apparently not established itself so strongly there as in the Achaean cities though many Tarentines are enumerated among the disciples of Pythagoras, and it is clear that the city had not altogether escaped their influence. (Iambl. Vit. Pyth. 262, 266 Porphyr. Vit. Pyth. 56.)
The defeat of the Tarentines by the Messapians, which is referred by Diodorus to B.C. 473 ( Diod. 11.52 ), is the first event in the history of Tarentum to which we can assign a definite date. Great as that blow may have been, it did not produce any permanent effect in checking the progress of the city, which still appears as one of the most flourishing in Magna Graecia. We next hear of the Tarentines as interfering to prevent the Thurians, who had been recently established in Italy, from making themselves masters of the district of the Siritis. On what grounds the Tarentines could lay claim to this district, which was separated from them by the intervening territory of Metapontum, we are not informed but they carried on war for some time against the Thurians, who were supported by the Spartan exile Cleandridas until at length the dispute was terminated by a compromise, and a new colony named Heracleia was founded in the contested territory (B.C. 432), in which the citizens of both states participated, but it was agreed that it should be considered as a colony of Tarentum. (Antioch. ap. Strab. vi. p.264 Diod. 12.23 , 36 .) At the time of the Athenian expedition to Sicily, the Tarentines kept aloof from the contest, and contented themselves with refusing all supplies and assistance to the Athenian fleet ( Thuc. 6.44 ), while they afforded shelter to the Corinthian and Laconian ships under Gylippus (Ib. 104), but they did not even prevent the second fleet under Demosthenes and Eurymedon from touching at the islands of the Choerades, immediately opposite to the entrance of their harbour, and taking on board some auxiliaries furnished by the Messapians. (Id. 7.33.)
Another long interval now elapses, during which the history of Tarentum is to us almost a blank yet the few notices we hear of the city represent it as in a state of great prosperity. We are told that at one time (apparently about 380--360 B.C.) Archytas, the Pythagorean philosopher, exercised a paramount influence over the government, and filled the office of Strategus or general no less than seven times, though it was prohibited by law to hold it more than once and was successful in every campaign. ( D. L. 8.4 . § § 79--82.) It is evident, therefore, that the Tarentines were far from enjoying unbroken peace. The hostilities alluded to were probably but a renewal of their old warfare with the Messapians but the security of the Greek cities in Italy was now menaced by two more formidable foes, Dionysius of Syracuse in the south, and the Lucanians on the north and west. The Tarentines, indeed seem to have at first looked upon both dangers with comparative indifference: their remote position secured them from the immediate brunt of the attack, and it is even doubtful whether they at first joined in the general league of the Greek cities to resist the danger which threatened them. Meanwhile, the calamities which befel the more southern cities, the destruction of some by Dionysius, and the humiliation of others, tended only to raise Tarentum in comparison, while that city itself enjoyed an immunity from all hostile attacks and it seems certain that it was at this period that Tarentum first rose to the preponderating position among the Greek cities in Italy, which it thenceforth enjoyed without a rival. It was apparently as an acknowledgment of that superiority, that when Tarentum had joined the confederacy of the Greek cities, the place of meeting of their congress was fixed at the Tarentine colony of Heracleia. ( Strab. vi. p.280 .)
It was impossible for the Tarentines any longer to keep aloof from the contest with the Lucanians, whose formidable power was now beginning to threaten all the cities in Magna Graecia and they now appear as taking a leading part in opposing the progress of those barbarians. But they were not content with their own resources, and called in successively to their assistance several foreign leaders and generals of renown. The first of these was the Spartan king Archidamus, who crossed over into Italy with a considerable force. Of his operations there we have no account, but he appears to have carried on the war for some years, as Diodorus places his first landing in Italy in B.C. 346, while the battle in which he was defeated and slain was not fought till the same time as that of Chaeroneia, B.C. 338. ( Diod. 16.63 , 88 .) This action, in which Archidamus himself, and almost all the troops which he had brought with him from Greece perished, was fought (as we are told), not with the Lucanians, but with the Messapians, in the neighbourlhood of Manduria, only 24 miles from Tarentum (Plut. Agis. 3 Paus. 3.10.5 Diod. l.c.) but there can be no doubt, however, that both nations were united, and that the Lucanians lent their support to the Messapians, as the old enemies of Tarentum. Henceforth, indeed, we find both names continually united. A few years after the death of Archidamus, Alexander, king of Epirus, was invited by the Tarentines, and landed in Italy, B.C. 332. The operations of his successive campaigns, which were continued till B.C. 326, are very imperfectly known to us, but he appears to have first turned his arms against the Messapians, and compelled them to conclude a peace with the Tarentines, before he proceeded to make war upon the Lucanians and Bruttians. But his arms were attended with considerable success in this quarter also: he defeated the Samnites and Lucanians in a great battle near Paestum, and penetrated into the heart of the Bruttian [p. 2.1097] territory. Meanwhile, however, he had quarrelled with his allies the Tarentines, so that he turned against them, took their colony of Heracleia, and endeavoured to transfer the congress of the Greek cities from thence to a place on the river Acalandrus, in the territory of Thurii. ( Strab. vi. p.280 Liv. 8.24 Just. 12.2 .) Hence his death, in B.C. 226, only liberated the Tarentines from an enemy instead of depriving them of an ally. They appear from this time to have either remained tranquil or carried on the contest single-handed, till B.C. 303, when we find them again invoking foreign assistance, and, as on a former occasion, sending to Sparta for aid. This was again furnished them, and a large army of mercenaries landed at Tarentum under Cleonymus, the uncle of the Spartan king. But though he compelled the Messapians and Lucanians to sue for peace, Cleonymus soon alienated the minds of his Greek allies by his arrogance and luxurious habits, and became the object of general hatred before he quitted Italy. ( Diod. 20.104 .) According to Strabo, the Tarentines subsequently called in the assistance of Agathocles ( Strab. vi. p.280 ) but we find no mention of this elsewhere, and Diodorus tells us that he concluded an alliance with the Iapygians and Peucetians, which could hardly have been done with favourable intentions towards Tarentum. (Diod. xxi. p. 490.)
Not long after this the Tarentines first came into collision with a more formidable foe than their neighbours, the Messapians and Lucanians. The wars of the Romans with the Samnites, in which the descendants of the latter people, the Apulians and Lucanians, were from time to time involved, had rendered the name and power of Rome familiar to the Greek cities on the Tarentine gulf and coast of the Adriatic, though their arms were not carried into that part of Italy till about B.C. 283, when they rendered assistance to the Thurians against the Lucanians [THURII]. But long before this, as early as the commencement of the Second Samnite War (B.C. 326), the Tarentines are mentioned in Roman history as supporting the Neapolitans with promises of succour, which, however, they never sent and afterwards exciting the Lucanians to war against the Romans. ( Liv. 8.27 .) Again, in B.C. 321 we are told that they sent a haughty embassy to command the Samnites and Romans to desist from hostilities, and threatened to declare war on whichever party refused to obey. (Id. 9.14.) But on this occasion also they did not put their threat in execution. At a subsequent period, probably about B.C. 303 (Arnold's Rome, vol. ii. p. 315), the Tarentines concluded a treaty with Rome, by which it was stipulated that no Roman ships of war should pass the Lacinian cape. (Appian, Samnit. 7.) It was therefore a direct breach of this treaty when, in B.C. 302, a Roman squadron of ten ships under L. Cornelius, which had been sent to the assistance of the Thurians, entered the Tarentine gulf, and even approached within sight of the city. The Tarentines, whose hostile disposition was already only half concealed, and who are said to have been the prime movers in organising the confederacy against Rome which led to the Fourth Samnite War ( Zonar. 8.2 .), immediately attacked the Roman ships, sunk four of them, and took one. After this they proceeded to attack the Thurians on account of their having called in the Romans, expelled the Roman garrison, and made themselves masters of the city. (Appian, Samn. 7.1 Zonar. 8.2 .) The Romans sent an embassy to Tarentum to complain of these outrages but their demands being refused, and their ambassador treated with contunmely, they had now no choice but to declare war upon the Tarentines, B.C. 281. (Appian, l.c. § 2 Zonar. l.c. Dio Cass. Fr. 145.) Nevertheless, the war was at first carried on with little energy but meanwhile the Tarentines, following their usual policy, had invited Pyrrhus, king of Epirus, to their assistance. That monarch readily accepted the overture, and sent over his general Milo to occupy the citadel of Tarentum with 3000 men, while he himself followed in the winter. ( Zonar. 8.2 Plut. Pyrrh. 15 , 16 .)
It is usual to represent the Tarentines as at this period sunk in luxury and effeminacy, so that they were unable to defend themselves, and hence compelled to have recourse to the assistance of Pyrrhus. But there is certainly much exaggeration in this view. They were no doubt accustomed to rely much upon the arms of mercenaries, but so were all the more wealthy cities of Greece and it is certain that the Tarentines themselves (apart from their allies and mercenaries), furnished not only a considerable body of cavalry, but a large force or phalanx of heavy-armed infantry, called the Leucaspids, from their white shields, who are especially mentioned as serving under Pyrrhus at the battle of Asculum. (Dionys. xx. Fr. Didot. 1, 5.) It is unnecessary here to repeat the history of the campaigns of that, monarch. His first successes for a time saved Tarentum itself from the brunt of the war: but when he at length, after his final defeat by Curius, withdrew from Italy (B.C. 274), it was evident that the full weight of the Roman arms would fall upon Tarentum. Pyrrhus, indeed, left Milo with a garrison to defend the city, but the Tarentines themselves were divided into two parties, the one of which was disposed to submit to Rome, while the other applied for assistance to Carthage. A Carthaginian fleet was actually sent to Tarentum, but it arrived too late, for Milo had already capitulated and surrendered the citadel into the hands of the Roman consul Papirius, B.C. 272. ( Zonar. 8.6 Oros. 4.3 .)
From this time Tarentum continued subject to Rome. The inhabitants were indeed left in possession of their own laws and nominal independence, but the city was jealously watched and a Roman legion seems to have been commonly stationed there. (Pol. 2.24.) During the First Punic War the Tarentines are mentioned as furnishing ships to the Romans (Pol. 1.20): but with this exception we hear no more of it till the Second Punic War, when it became a military post of great importance. Hannibal was from an early period desirous to make himself master of the city, which, with its excellent port, would at once have secured his communications with Africa. It is evident also that there was a strong Carthaginian party in the city, who shortly after the battle of Cannae, opened negotiations with Hannibal, and renewed them upon a subsequent occasion ( Liv. 22.61 , 24.13 ) but they were kept down by the presence of the Roman garrison, and it was not till B.C. 212 that Nico and Philemenus, two of the leaders of this party, found an opportunity to betray the city into his hands. ( Liv. 25.8 - 10 Pol. 8.26--33.) Even then the Roman garrison still held the citadel and Hannibal having failed in his attempts to carry this fortress by assault, was compelled to resort to a blockade. He cut it off on [p. 2.1098] the land side by drawing a double line of fortifications across the isthmus, and made himself master of the sea by dragging a part of the fleet which was shut up within the inner port (or Mare Piccolo), across the narrowest part of the isthmus, and launching it again in the outer bay. (Pol. 8.34--36 Liv. 25.11 .) This state of things continued for more than two years, during the whole of which time the Carthaginians continued masters of the city, while the Roman garrison still maintained possession of the citadel, and the besiegers were unable altogether to prevent them from receiving supplies from without, though on one occasion the Romans, having sent a considerable fleet under D. Quintius to attempt the relief of the place, this was met by the Tarentines, and after an obstinate conflict the Roman fleet was defeated and destroyed. ( Liv. 25.15 , 26.39 , 27.3 .) At length in B.C. 209 Fabius determined if possible to wrest from Hannibal the possession of this important post and laid siege to Tarentum while the Carthaginian general was opposed to Marcellus. He himself encamped on the N. of the port, close to the entrance, so that he readily put himself in communication with M. Livius, the commander of the citadel. But while he was preparing his ships and engines for the assault, an accident threw in his way the opportunity of surprising the city, of which he made himself master with little difficulty. The Carthaginian garrison was put to the sword, as well as a large part of the inhabitants, and the whole city was given up to plunder. (Id. 27.12, 15, 16 Plut. Fab. 21 - 23 .) Livy praises the magnanimity of Fabius in not carrying off the statues and other works of art in which Tarentum abounded ( Liv. 27.16 Plut. Fab. 23 ) but it is certain that he transferred from thence to Rome a celebrated statue of Hercules by Lysippus, which long continued to adorn the Capitol. ( Strab. vi. p.278 Plin. Nat. 34.7. s. 18 .) The vast quantity of gold and silver which fell into the hands of the victors sufficiently bears out the accounts of the great wealth of the Tarentines. (Liv. l.c.）
Tarentum had already suffered severely on its capture by Hannibal, and there can be no doubt that it sustained a still severer blow when it was retaken by Fabius. ( Strab. vi. p.278 .) It was at first proposed to degrade it to a condition similar to that of Capua, but this was opposed by Fabius, and the decision was postponed till after the war. ( Liv. 27.25 .) What the final resolution of the senate was, we know not but Tarentum is alluded to at a subsequent period, as still retaining its position of an allied city, “urbs foederata.” ( Liv. 35.16 .) It is certain that it still remained the chief place in this part of Italy, and was the customary residence of the praetor or other magistrate who was sent to the S. of Italy. Thus we find in B.C. 185, L. Postumius sent thither to carry on investigations into the conspiracies that had arisen out of the Bacchanalian rites, as well as among the slave population. ( Liv. 39.29 , 41 .) But it is nevertheless clear that it was (in common with the other Greek cities of this part of Italy) fallen into a state of great decay and hence, in B.C. 123, among the colonies sent out by C. Gracchus, was one to Tarentum, which appears to have assumed the title of Colonia Neptunia. ( Vell. 1.15 Plin. Nat. 3.11. s. 16 see Mommsen, in Berichte der Sächsischen Gesellschaft for 1849, pp. 49--51.) According to Strabo this colony became a flourishing one, and the city enjoyed considerable prosperity in his day. But it was greatly fallen from its former splendour, and only occupied the site of the ancient citadel, with a small part of the adjoining isthmus. ( Strab. vi. p.278 .) It was, however, one of the few cities which still retained the Greek language and manners, in common with Neapolis and Rhegium. (Ib. p. 253.) The salubrity of its climate, as well as the fertility of its territory, and, above all, the importance of its port, preserved it from the complete decay into which so many of the cities of Magna Graecia fell under the Roman government. It is repeatedly mentioned during the civil wars between Octavian, Antony, and Sex. Pompeius as a naval station of importance and it was there that in B.C. 36 a fresh arrangement was come to between Octavian and Antony, which we find alluded to by Tacitus as the “Tarentinum foedus.” (Appian, App. BC 2.40 , 5.50 , 80 , 84 , 93 --99 Tac. Ann. 1.10. ）
Even under the Empire Tarentum continued to be one of the chief seaports of Italy, though in some measure eclipsed by the growing importance of Brundusium. ( Tac. Ann. 14.12 , Hist. 2.83.) An additional colony of veterans was sent there under Nero, but with little effect, most of them having soon again dispersed. ( Tac. Ann. 14.27. ) No subsequent mention of Tarentum is found in history until after the fall of the Western Empire, but it then appears as a considerable town, and bears an important part in the Gothic Wars on account of its strength as a fortress, and the excellence of its port. (Procop. B. G. 3.23, 27, 37, 4.26, 34.) It was taken by Belisarius, but retaken by Totila in A.D. 549, and continued in the hands of the Goths till it was finally wrested from them by Narses. From that time it continued subject to the Byzantine Empire till A.D. 661, when it was taken by the Lombard Romoaldus, duke of Beneventum (P. Diac. 6.1) and afterwards fell successively into the hands of the Saracens and the Greek emperors. The latter did not finally lose their hold of it till it was taken by Robert Guiscard in 1063. It has ever since formed part of the kingdom of Naples. The modern city of Tarentum has a population of about 20,000 souls it is the see of an archbishop, and still ranks as the most important city in this part of Italy. But it is confined to the space occupied by the ancient citadel, the extremity of the peninsula or promontory between the two ports: this is now an island, the low isthmus which connected it with the mainland having been cut through by king Ferdinand I., for the purpose of strengthening its fortifications.
Scarcely any remains are now extant of the celebrated and opulent city of Tarentum. “Never (says Swinburne) was a place more completely swept off the face of the earth.” Some slight remains of an amphitheatre (of course of Roman date) are visible outside the walls of the modern city while within it the convent of the Celestines is built on the foundations of an ancient temple. Even the extent of the ancient city can be very imperfectly determined. A few slight vestiges of the ancient walls are, however, visible near an old church which bears the name of Sta Maria di Murveta, about 2 miles from the gates of the modern city and there is no doubt that the walls extended from thence, on the one side to the Mare Piccolo, on the other side to the outer sea. The general form of the city was thus triangular, having the citadel at the apex, which is now joined to the opposite shore by a [p. 2.1099] bridge of seven arches. This was already the case in Strabo's time, though no mention of it is found at the time of the siege by Hannibal.
The general form and arrangement of the city cannot be better described than they are by Strabo. He says: “While the whole of the rest of the Tarentine gulf is destitute of ports, there is here a very large and fair port, closed at the entrance by a large bridge, and not less than 100 stadia in circumference. [This is beneath the truth: the Mare Piccolo is more than 16 miles (128 stadia) in circuit.] On the side towards the inner recess of the port it forms an isthmus with the exterior sea, so that the city lies upon a peninsula and the neck of the isthmus is so low that ships can easily be drawn over the land from one side to the other. The whole city also lies low, but rises a little towards the citadel. The ancient wall comprises a circuit of great extent but now the greater part of the space adjoining the isthmus is deserted, and only that part still subsists which adjoins the mouth of the port, where also the Acropolis is situated. The portion still remaining is such as to make up a considerable city. It has a splendid Gymnasium, and a good-sized Agora, in which stands the bronze colossal statue of Jupiter, the largest in existence next to that at Rhodes. In the interval between the Agora and the mouth of the port is the Acropolis, which retains only a few remnants of the splendid monuments with which it was adorned in ancient times. For the greater part were either destroyed by the Carthaginians when they took the city, or carried off as booty by the Romans, when they made themselves masters of it by assault. Among these is the colossal bronze statue of Hercules in the Capitol, a work of Lysippus, which was dedicated there as an offering by Fabius Maximus, who took the city.” ( Strab. vi. p.278 .)
In the absence of all extant remains there is very little to be added to the above description. But Polybius, in his detailed narrative of the capture of the city by Hannibal, supplies us with some local names and details. The principal gate on the E. side of the city, in the outer line of walls, seems to have been that called the Temenid Gate ( αἱ πύλαι Τημένιδαι, Pol. 8.30) outside of which was a mound or tumulus called the tomb of Hyacinthus, whose worship had obviously been brought from Sparta. A broad street called the Batheia, or Low Street, led apparently from this gate towards the interior of the city. This from its name may be conjectured to have lain close to the port and the water's edge, while another broad street led from thence to the Agora. (Ib. 31.) Another street called the Soteira ( Σωτεῖρα ) was apparently on the opposite side of the city from the Batheia, and must therefore have adjoined the outer sea. (Ib. 36.) Immediately adjoining the Agora was the Museum ( Μουσεῖον ), a public building which seems to have served for festivals and public banquets, rather than for any purposes connected with its name. (Ib. 27, 29.) There is nothing to indicate the site of the theatre, alluded to by Polybius on the same occasion, except that it was decidedly within the city, which was not always the case. Strabo does not notice it, but it must have been a building of large size, so as to be adapted for the general assemblies of the people, which were generally held in it, as was the case also at Syracuse and in other Greek cities. This is particularly mentioned on several occasions it was there that the Roman ambassadors received the insult which finally led to the ruin of the city. ( Flor. 1.18.3 V. Max. 2.2.5 Appian, Samnit. 7.)
Livy inaccurately describes the citadel as standing on lofty cliffs ( “praealtis rupibus,” 25.11): the, peninsula on which it stood rises indeed (as observed by Strabo) a little above the rest of the city, and it. is composed of a rocky soil but the whole site is low, and no part of it rises to any considerable elevation. The hills also that surround the Mare Piccolo are of trifling height, and slope very gradually to its banks, as well as to the shore of the outer sea. There can be no doubt that the, port of Tarentum, properly so called, was the inlet now called the Mare Piccolo or “Little Sea,” but outside this the sea on the S. side of the city forms a bay or roadstead, which affords good shelter to shipping, being partially sheltered from the SW. by the two small islands of S. Pietro and S. Paolo, apparently the same which were known in ancient times as the CHOERADES ( Thuc. 7.33 .)
Tarentum was celebrated in ancient times for the salubrity of its climate and the fertility of its territory. Its advantages in both respects are extolled by Horace in a well-known ode (Carm. 2.6), who says that its honey was equal to that of Hymettus, and its olives to those of Venafrum. Varro also praised its honey as the best in Italy (ap. Macrob. Sat. 2.12). Its oil and wines enjoyed a nearly equal reputation the choicest quality of the latter seems to have been that produced at Aulon (Hor. l.c. Martial, 13.125 Plin. Nat. 14.6. s. 8 ), a valley in the neighbourhood, on the slope of a hill still called Monte Melone [AULON]. But the choicest production of the neighbourhood of Tarentum was its wool, which appears to have enjoyed an acknowledged supremacy over that of all parts of Italy. ( Plin. Nat. 29.2. s. 9 Martial, l.c. Varr. R. R. 2.2.18 Strab. vi. p.284 Col. 7.2.3 .) Nor was this owing solely to natural advantages, as we learn that the Tarentines bestowed the greatest care upon the preservation and improvement of the breed of sheep. ( Col. 7.4 .) Tarentum was noted likewise for its breed of horses, which supplied the famous Tarentine cavalry, which was long noted among the Greeks. Their territory abounded also in various kinds of fruits of the choicest quality, especially pears, figs, and chestnuts, and though not as fertile in corn as the western shores of the Tarentine gulf, was nevertheless well adapted to its cultivation. At the same time its shores produced abundance of shell-fish of all descriptions, which formed in ancient times a favourite article of diet. Even at the present day the inhabitants of Taranto subsist to a great extent upon the shell-fish produced in the Mare Piccolo in a profusion almost incredible. Its Pectens or scallops enjoyed a special reputation with the Roman epicures. (Hor. Sat. 2.4. 34.) But by far the most valuable production of this class was the Murex, which furnished the celebrated purple dye. The Tarentine purple was considered second only to the Tyrian, and for a long time was the most valuable known to the Romans. (Corn. Nep. ap. Plin. 9.39. s. 63.) Even in the time of Augustus it continued to enjoy a high reputation. ( Hor. Ep. 2.1 , 207 .) So extensive were the manufactories of this dye at Tarentum that considerable mounds are still visible on the shore of the Mare Piccolo, composed wholly of broken shells of this species. (Swinburne's Travels, vol. i. p. 239.) [p. 2.1100]
The climate of Tarentum, though justly praised by Horace for its mildness, was generally reckoned soft and enervating, and was considered as in some degree the cause of the luxurious and effeminate habits ascribed to the inhabitants ( “molle Tarentum,” Hor. Sat. 2.4. 34 “imbelle Tarentum,” Id. Ep. 1.7. 45.) It is probable that this charge, as in many other cases, was greatly exaggerated but there is no reason to doubt that the Tarentines, like almost all the other Greeks who became a manufacturing and commercial people, indulged in a degree of luxury far exceeding that of the ruder nations of Central Italy. The wealth and opulence to which they attained in the 4th century B.C. naturally tended to aggravate these evils, and the Tarentines are represented as at the time of the arrival of Pyrrhus enfeebled and degraded by luxurious indulgences, and devoted almost exclusively to the pursuit of pleasure. To such an excess was this carried that we are told the number of their annual festivals exceeded that of the days of the year. (Theopomp. ap. Athen. 4.166 Clearch. ap. Athen. 12.522 Strab. vi. p.280 Aelian, Ael. VH 12.30 .) Juvenal alludes to their love of feasting and pleasure when he calls it “coronatum ac petulans madidumque Tarentum” (6.297). But it is certain, as already observed, that they were not incapable of war: they furnished a considerable body of troops to the army of Pyrrhus and in the sea-fight with the Roman fleet off the entrance of the harbour, during the Second Punic War, they displayed both courage and skill in naval combat. ( Liv. 26.39 .) In the time of their greatest power, according to Strabo, they could send into the field an army of 30,000 foot and 3000 horse, besides a body of 1000 select cavalry called Hipparchs. ( Strab. vi. p.280 .) The Tarentine light cavalry was indeed celebrated throughout Greece, so that they gave name to a particular description of cavalry, which are mentioned under the name of Tarentines ( Ταραντῖνοι ), in the armies of Alexander the Great and his successors and the appellation continued in use down to the period of the Roman Empire. (Arrian, Anab. Id. Tact. 4 Pol. 4.77, 11.12 Liv. 35.28 Aelian, Tact. 2. p. 14 Suidas, s. v. Ταραντῖνοι. ) It is probable, however, that these may have been always recruited in great part among the neighbouring Messapians and Sallentines, who also excelled as light horsemen.
With their habits of luxury the Tarentines undoubtedly combined the refinements of the arts usually associated with it, and were diligent cultivators of the fine arts. The great variety and beauty of their coins is, even at the present day, a sufficient proof of this, while the extraordinary numbers of them which are still found in the S. of Italy attest the wealth of the city. Ancient writers also speak of the numbers of pictures, statues, and other works of art with which the city was adorned, and of which. a considerable number were transported to Rome. ( Flor. 1.18 Strab. vi. p.278 Liv. 27.16 .) Among these the most remarkable were the colossal statue of Jupiter, mentioned by Strabo (l.c.), and which was apparently still standing in the Agora in his time the bronze statue of Hercules by Lysippus already noticed and a statue of Victory, which was also carried to Rome, where it became one of the chief ornaments of the Curia Julia. ( D. C. 51.22 .) Nor were the Tarentines deficient in the cultivation of literature. In addition to Archytas, the Pythagorean philosopher, celebrated for his mathematical attainments and discoveries, who long held at Tarentum a place somewhat similar to that of Pericles at Athens ( D. L. 8.4 Suid. s. v. Ἀρχύτας Athen. 12.545 ), Aristoxenus, the celebrated musician and disciple of Aristotle, was a native of Tarentum as well as Rhinthon, the dramatic poet, who became the founder of a new species of burlesque drama which was subsequently cultivated by Sopater and other authors. (Suid. s. v. Ρίνθων. ) It was from Tarentum also that the Romans received the first rudiments of the regular drama, Livius Andronicus, their earliest dramatic poet, having been a Greek of Tarentum, who was taken prisoner when the city fell into their hands. ( Cic. Brut. 18 ）
Polybius tells us that Tarentum retained many traces of its Lacedaemonian origin in local names and customs, which still subsisted in his day. Such was the tomb of Hyacinthus already mentioned (Pol. 8.30): the river Galaesus also was called by them the Eurotas (Ib. 35), though the native name ultimately prevailed. Another custom which he notices as peculiar was that of burying their dead within the walls of the city, so that a considerable space within the walls was occupied by a necropolis. (Ib. 30.) This custom he ascribes to an oracle, but it may have arisen (as was the case at Agrigentum and Syracuse) from the increase of the city having led to the original necropolis being inclosed within the walls.
The name of Tarentum (Taras) was supposed to be derived from a river of the name of TARAS ( Τάρας ), which is noticed by several ancient writers. ( Steph. B. sub voce Τάρας Paus. 10.10.8 .) This is commonly identified with a deep, but sluggish, stream, which flows into the sea about 4 miles W. of the entrance of the harbour of Tarentum, and is still called Tara, though corrupted by the peasantry into Fiume di Terra. (Romanelli, vol. i. p. 281 Swinburne, vol. i. p. 271.) The more celebrated stream of the GALAESUS flowed into the Mare Piccola or harbour of Tarentum on its N. shore: it is commonly identified with the small stream called Le Citrezze, an old church near which still retains the name of Sta Maria di Galeso. [GALAESUS] Another locality in the immediate neighbourhood of Tarentum, the name of which is associated with that of the city by Horace, is AULON a hill or ridge celebrated for the excellence of its wines. This is identified by local topographers, though on very slight grounds, with a sloping ridge on the seashore about 8 miles SE. of Tarentum, a part of which bears the name of Monte Melone, supposed to be a corruption of Aulone [AULON]. A more obscure name, which is repeatedly mentioned in connection with Tarentum, is that of SATURIUM ( Σατύριον ). From the introduction of this name in the oracle alleged to have been given to Phalanthus ( Strab. vi. p.279 ), it seems probable that it was an old native name, but it is not clear that there ever was a town or even village of the name. It is more probable that it was that of a tract or district in the neighbourhood of Tarentum. Stephanus of Byzantium distinctly calls it χώρα πλήσιον Τάραντος (s. v. Σατύριον ) and the authority of Servius, who calls it a city (civitas) near Tarentum, is not worth much in comparison. There was certainly no city of the name in historical times. Virgil applies the epithet “Saturium” (as an adjective) to Tarentum itself (Geory. 2.197 Serv. ad loc.: many commentators, however, consider “saturi” from “satur” [p. 2.1101] to be the true reading), and Hrace speaks of “Satureianus cabellus” as equivalent to Tarentine. ( Sat. i. 6. 59.) The memory of the locality is preserved by a watch-tower on the coast, about seven miles SE. of Tarentum, which is still called Torre di Saturo (Romanelli, vol. i. p. 294 Zannoni Carta del Regno di Napoli).
(Concerning the history and ancient institutions of Tarentum, see Heyne, Opuscula, vol. ii. pp. 217--232 and Lorentz, de Civitate Veterum Tarentinorum, 4to. Lips. 1833. The present state and localities are described by Swinburne, vol. i. pp. 225--270 Keppel Craven, Southern Tour, pp. 174--190 and Romandelli, vol. i. pp. 282--289 but from the absence of existing remains, the antiquities of Tarentum have scarcely received as much attention as they deserve.)
Tarentum - History
After St. Clement’s closed in 2006, one of Follieri’s numerous corporations — CV12 216 W. Ninth Avenue LLC — bought the property in January 2007.
Men from the Vatican
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, from June 2005 through June 2007, Follieri ran a fraudulent real estate investment scheme, claiming that he had close connections with the Vatican — enabling him to purchase Catholic church properties at prices well below their market value.
He allegedly told people he formally was appointed by the Vatican to manage its financial affairs. Investigators say he raised investment capital for an “Italian office” that didn’t exist, including $800,000 on bogus “engineering reports” and other falsified business expenses.
Federal prosecutors say they have ample evidence that he spent as much as $6 million from his investors on a jet-setting lifestyle for himself, a girlfriend and others. The girlfriend is said to be actress Anne Hathaway, who dated Follieri for four years. Tabloid reports say the pair split last week.
Follieri is charged with various counts of conspiracy, wire fraud and money laundering. If he receives the maximum sentence, Follieri would spend life in prison and pay millions of dollars in fines.
A federal district court judge set Follieri’s bail at $21 million — $16 million must be in cash or property. Follieri also must relinquish his passport and get five other people to co-sign, assuming responsibility if he tries to escape. At press time, he was still in federal custody.
When Follieri’s company bought the former St. Clement’s property from the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh in January 2007, it was valued at $407, 000 — $337,000 for the building and $70,000 for the 23,000 square feet of adjoining land. Follieri, though, paid only $252,000 for it, according to Allegheny County records.
Follieri’s company also bought St. Patrick’s in Alpsville, Allegheny County, said the Rev. Ron Lengwin, diocesan spokesman.
“We were prepared to sell them (other unused properties), but it never got that far,” Lengwin said.
Follieri’s representatives did not tell diocesan officials they had ties to the Vatican, said Lengwin.
“Any church official could tell who was from the Vatican and who was not,” he said.
The property was sold to Follieri at the reduced price because “when you sell a piece of property that no one else wants, you have to sell it to the person who wants to buy it for what they’re willing to pay,” Lengwin said.
By the end of the year, the property was back on the market for $425,000.
The marketing agent trying to sell it, James Kelly of Grubb & Ellis in Pittsburgh, said he could not comment, as part of his contract with Follieri’s company.
Multiple calls to Follieri Group’s main switchboard were forwarded by a receptionist to a non-working number.
Tarentum Borough Manager Bill Rossey said he had heard about Follieri but didn’t know he owned the former St. Clement’s property and had heard nothing about what might happen to it now.
According to staff at the U.S. Marshals’ Department of Asset Forfeiture, if Follieri is convicted of obtaining his assets fraudulently or using legitimately obtained assets to commit a crime, those assets could be seized and sold to pay restitution to the people he cheated. Other options include a plea agreement to sell the properties and liquidate the assets to pay restitution or other penalties.
At last estimate, the building needs about $400,000 in work before it could be used again, including the roof and mildew removal, said local Catholic historian Charles “Skip” Culleiton of New Kensington.
Former parishioners and local Catholics probably would like to see the building used to provide some social service or for another purpose that could improve the community, which is what Follieri’s corporation originally promised, Culleiton said.
“That would probably make (parishoners, Catholics) them feel better about the whole thing,” Culleiton said.