Taras, modern Taranto, was the most important Greek city on the western coast of Calabria. Its location was ideal for fishing and seafaring. Taras conducted a vivid trade with the cities of Greece and with the Aegean islands, thereby growing immensely rich. For this reason the city was exposed to covetousness of its neighbors now and again.
The town started minting gold coins in the late 4th century BC, when it had to pay mercenaries to assist in the defense of the city. They bore the nymph Persephone on the obverse, while Castor and Pollux were depicted on the reverse; they were holding a palm leaf and a laurel wreath in anticipation of victory.