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(thĕs`əlē), largest ancient region of Greece in N central Greece. It corresponded roughly to the present-day nomes of Larissa and Tríkkala, which form part of the modern region known as Thessaly. Ancient Thessaly was almost completely walled in by mountains, including Pindus, Ossa, and Othrys (now Othrís), and the plains were extremely fertile. Civilization dates from prehistoric times. Before 1000 B.C. a tribe called the Thessalians entered the area from the northwest. The chief Thessalian cities, Larissa, Crannon, and Pherae, were oligarchical. The great families were the Aleuadae (at Larissa) and the Scopadae (at Crannon). The Thessalians were powerful in the 6th cent. B.C., partly through their control of the Amphictyonic League (see amphictyonyamphictyony
, in ancient Greece, a league connected with maintaining a temple or shrine. There were a number of these, but by far the most important was the Great, or Delphic, Amphictyony (or simply the Amphictyonic League), a league originally of 12 tribes.
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). Conflict between the oligarchies, however, contributed to Thessaly's decline. Jason, the tyrant of Pherae, succeeded (374 B.C.) in uniting Thessaly, which again became a force in Greece, but it did not remain powerful for long and was subjugated (344 B.C.) by Philip II of Macedon. Under the Roman emperors Thessaly was joined to Macedonia, but after the death of Constantine the Great it became a separate province. It passed (1355) to the Turks and was ceded to Greece in 1881.


See A. J. B. Wace, Prehistoric Thessaly (1912); H. D. Hansen, Early Civilization in Thessaly (1933); and H. D. Westlake, Thessaly in the Fourth Century B.C. (1935, repr. 1969).



a historical region in central Greece, on the coast of the Aegean Sea, corresponding to the nomes of Larisa, Kardhitsa, Magnisia, and Trikkala. Present-day Thessaly covers an area of 13,900 sq km and has a population of 659,900 (1971).

Thessaly, which lies on the fertile plains of Trikkala and Larisa, is an agricultural region. The granary of Greece, it produces wheat, barley, corn, and legumes, among other grains. Tobacco and cotton are also grown, as well as olives, grapes, and various subtropical fruits. The region has considerable herds of cattle, sheep, and goats. The population also engages in fishing and the mining of copper. Industries include the production of textiles, foodstuffs, tobacco products, cement, metal and wood products, and agricultural machinery; there is also ship repairing and the building of small craft. The main port is Volos; the largest cities are Larisa and Trikkala.

Archaeological excavations of Prepottery Neolithic settlements in Argiss, Souphlion, and Sesklo have shown that the fertile lands of Thessaly encouraged the tribes that settled there to convert to a production economy as early as the middle of the seventh millennium B.C. From the sixth to fourth millennia, during the Neolithic period, the inhabitants of Thessaly, who spoke Pelasgian, engaged in land cultivation, livestock raising, and domestic handicraft production. In the Bronze Age, the Achaeans assumed predominance among the Greek population.

Beginning in the second millennium B.C., an early class government emerged in Thessaly. The Thessalians, an Epirian tribe, settled in Thessaly in the 12th century B.C. and subjugated the local population. The conquerors constituted a class of landholding aristocrats who held sway over dependent farmers, called pelestai. In the fifth century B.C., as a result of the struggle between the demos and the aristocracy, tyranny was established in several cities in Thessaly.

In the fourth century B.C., all Thessaly was united under the tyrant Jason of Pherae. Between 352 and 344 B.C., it was conquered by the Macedonians. After the battle of Cynoscephalae, in 197 B.C., Thessaly, along with other parts of Greece, came within the Roman sphere of influence, and in 148 B.C., it became part of the Roman province of Macedonia.

From A.D. 395 through 1396, Thessaly was part of Byzantium, and from 1396 to 1881 it belonged to Turkey. In 1881, Thessaly became part of Greece.


Shmidt, R. V. “Iz istoriia Fessalii.” Izv. Gos. Akademii istorii material’noi kul’tury, 1934, issue 101.
Titov, V. S. Neolit Gretsii: Periodizatsia i khronologiia. Moscow, 1969.
Wace, A., and M. S. Thompson. Prehistoric Thessaly. Cambridge, 1912.
Stählin, F. Das hellenische Thessalien. Stuttgart, 1924.
Westlake, H. D. Thessaly in the Fourth Century B.C. London, 1935.


a region of E Central Greece, on the Aegean: an extensive fertile plain, edged with mountains. Pop.: 609 100 (2001). Area: 14 037 sq. km (5418 sq. miles)
References in periodicals archive ?
According to this interpretation, the young Thessalian addresses Hydaspes exclusively, pointing out the absurdity of the king's demand in a cynical way; (54) this reading does not presuppose that Theagenes suspects Charicles' awareness of Charicleia's descent; on the contrary, his words can be understood as indicating that in his opinion, it would be hard to convince Charicles of the girl's royal lineage.
Under Augustus the Magnesians, Malians, Ainians, Phthitians and Dolopes were consolidated into a single Thessalian bloc, and control over their vote was given to the Nicopolitans (Nicopolis, 'City of Victory', was the name given to Actium by Augustus) who became members of the League for the first time.
I doubt many Thessalian peasants believed witches could really pluck out the moon, but probably most suspected anyone who made such claims might be capable of something fairly terrible.
identity, Melite continues to believe that she is a Thessalian woman
I desire to shout to the dogs and with a pointed weapon in my hand hurl a Thessalian spear past my yellow hair.
The Altar of the Six Goddesses in Thessalian Pherai," CSCA 7, pp.
55 can also mislead by giving undue prominence to certain isolated facts of Thessalian, Boeotian, and Central Cretan (cf.
Pindar's Pythian 10, written for the Thessalian boy victor Hippocleas, offers a likely parallel for precisely this situation, in that the ode itself was commissioned by Thorax, a member of the local ruling family, but not a relative of the boy.
53] In Apuleius's Metamorphoses women change their shapes by rubbing themselves with ointment, there are lamiae noxiis (horrible witches), taeterrimaeque Furiae (hideous Furies), [54] cantatrices anus (old enchantresses), [55] Thessalian witches who bite the face of a corpse, [56] and have the supernatural power to bring down the sky, raise the spirits of the dead and make men fall in love with them.
Pharsalus is a hill town in the Thessalian plain; the immediate area around it is hardly mountainous.
In the Iliad Asclepius seems to be a rather ordinary Thessalian student of Chiron who then passed on his medical wisdom to his sons Machaon and Podalirius, who themselves lead a brigade of Thessalians to Troy (2.
Following the loss of Protesilaus, the Thessalian bride falls into a chasm of longing as large as the trench excavated by Hercules to drain the marshes around the town of Pheneus in Arcadia (107-18).