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Thermopylae(thərmŏp`ĭlē) [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., LeonidasLeonidas
, d. 480 B.C., king of Sparta. He succeeded (c.491 B.C.) his half-brother, Cleomenes I. When the Persians invaded Greece under Xerxes (480 B.C.), Leonidas with 300 Spartans and 5,000 auxiliaries was given the pass at Thermopylae to hold. There was treachery.
..... Click the link for more information. with his Spartans and their allies lost a heroic battle to the Persians under Xerxes IXerxes I
(Xerxes the Great) , d. 465 B.C., king of ancient Persia (486–465 B.C.). His name in Old Persian is Khshayarsha, in the Bible Ahasuerus. He was the son of Darius I and Atossa, daughter of Cyrus the Great. After bringing (484 BC.
..... Click the link for more information. (see Persian WarsPersian Wars,
500 B.C.–449 B.C., series of conflicts fought between Greek states and the Persian Empire. The writings of Herodotus, who was born c.484 B.C., are the great source of knowledge of the history of the wars.
..... Click the link for more information. ). At the pass in 279 B.C., the Greeks held back the Gauls under BrennusBrennus,
d. 279 B.C., Gallic leader. He was in command of the band of Gauls (or Galatians) who invaded Greece in 279 B.C. At first halted at Thermopylae, he later turned and took the pass into Doris.
..... Click the link for more information. , who ultimately broke through, and, in 191 B.C., Antiochus IIIAntiochus III
(Antiochus the Great), d. 187 B.C., king of Syria (223–187 B.C.), son of Seleucus II and younger brother of Seleucus III, whom he succeeded. At his accession the Seleucid empire was in decline.
..... Click the link for more information. of Syria was defeated there by the Romans.
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.