Thermopylae

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Thermopylae

Thermopylae (thərmŏpˈĭlē) [Gr.,=hot gates, from hot mineral springs nearby], pass, E central Greece, SE of Lamía, between the cliffs of Mt. Oeta and the Malic Gulf. Silt accumulation has gradually widened the once-narrow pass. In ancient times it was used as an entrance into Greece from the north. There in 480 B.C., Leonidas with his Spartans and their allies lost a heroic battle to the Persians under Xerxes I (see Persian Wars). At the pass in 279 B.C., the Greeks held back the Gauls under Brennus, who ultimately broke through, and, in 191 B.C., Antiochus III of Syria was defeated there by the Romans.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Thermopylae

 

a mountain pass in Greece, on the border between Thessaly and central Greece, south of Lamia. In 480 B.C., during the Greco-Persian Wars, Thermopylae was the site of a major battle. Under the command of the king of Sparta, Leonidas, an allied Greek army of approximately 5,000 men blocked the pass and held off thousands of Persian troops, led by the King of Persia, Xerxes. With the help of a deserter, the Persians succeeded in reaching the rear of the Greek forces. Leonidas then dispatched troops to defend Athens, and he and 300 Spartan troops continued their stubborn defense to the last man. The Spartans later erected a monument at the site where the heroes died.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Thermopylae

300 Spartans hold off Xerxes’ horde (480 B.C.). [Classical Hist.: Harbottle Battles, 248]
See: Battle

Thermopylae

shown the back door, Persians destroyed Spartans (480 B.C.). [Gk. Hist.: Harbottle, 248]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Thermopylae

(in ancient Greece) a narrow pass between the mountains and the sea linking Locris and Thessaly: a defensible position on a traditional invasion route from N Greece; scene of a famous battle (480 bc) in which a greatly outnumbered Greek army under Leonidas fought to the death to delay the advance of the Persians during their attempted conquest of Greece
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005