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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).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



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


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)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
pubes expleta est [after the Thessalian youth was satisfied by gazing at
Achilles depicts her acting the role of Thessalian witch.
In Heliodoros' Aithiopika (2.34.2-7) the priest of Apollo at Delphi, Charikles, describes the quadrennial sacrifice ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) and embassy ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) (1) sent to Delphi at the time of the Pythian Games in honour of Neoptolemos, the son of Achilles, by the Thessalian Ainians who lived in Hypata and traced their descent from Hellen, the son of Deukalion.
[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.
Philip had gained control of Thessaly when he defeated Onomarchos at the battle of the Crocus Plain in 353 B.C., at which time the Thessalians recognized him as the archon of their confederacy.(22) Philip nonetheless faced some unrest in Thessaly for years to come, and did not bring the region fully under his control until shortly before the battle of Chaironeia.
The Thessalians mourned, and granted their would-be liberator heroic honours.
compulsion and negative motives', Baragwanath puts the stereotypical views of Argive, Syracusan, Corcyrean, Thessalian, Athenian, and Spartan motivations to bed and replaces them with what seem like more substantiated justifications for the way Herodotus tells us they acted.
At Plataea, the Greek allies of Persia who were pitted against the Athenians included the Boeotians, Locrians, Thessalians, Phocians, and the Macedonians.
Lane Fox, Alexander the Great (London 1973) 193 tries to shift the blame for the killing of Betis onto the Thessalians.
As Alexander was approaching the battlefield of Issus, he deployed on his right 'cavalrymen the so-called Companions, the Thessalians and the Macedones' and on his left the Peloponnesian cavalry and the other allied cavalry.
'Having enslaved this city and made an example of it Philip not only became master of the Thraceward cities(6) but also made the Thessalians subject to himself in their terror' ([Greek Text Omitted] 9.28.3, a phrase similar to Trogus' Thessalia atque Thracia subactae).
Nor is the one alleged fragment of Critiass 'Thessalian Constitution (88 B31 DK = Athenaeus 14.662F) sufficient to allow us to draw any firm conclusions regarding the content and tendency of the whole.