Unfortunately several of these fertile tracts suffer severely from malaria (q.v.), and especially the great plain adjoining the Gulf of Tarentum, which in the early ages of history was surrounded by a girdle of Greek cities—some of which attained to almost unexampled prosperity—has for centuries past been given up to almost complete desolation.
Of all the other tribes that inhabited Italy down to the classical period, of whose speech there is any record (whether explicit or in the form of names and glosses), it is impossible to maintain that any one does not belong to the Indo-European group. Putting aside the Etruscan, and also the different Greek dialects of the Greek colonies, like Cumae, Neapolis, Tarentum, and proceeding from the south to the north, the different languages or dialects, of whose separate existence at some time between, say, 600 and 200 B.C., we can be, sure, may be enumerated as follows: (I) Sicel, (2) South Oscan.
From Beneventum, another important road centre, the Via Appia itself ran south-east through the mountains past Venusia to Tarentum on the south-west coast of the heel, and thence across Calabria to Brundusium, while Trajans correction of it, following an older mule-track, ran north-east through the mountains and then through the lower ground of Apulia, reaching the coast at Barium.
It originally ran only as far as Capua, but was successively prolonged to Beneventum, Venusia, Tarentum and Brundusium, though at what dates is unknown.
From Beneventum to Brundusium by the Via Appia, through Venusia and Tarentum, was 202 m.
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