Sites & cities that bear the name of Thermopylae


Today in : Greece
First trace of activity : ca. 6th century B.C.E
Last trace of activity : ca. 3rd century C.E
Recorded names : Malis, Thermopylai, Θερμοπύλαι, Θερμοπύλες, Thermopyles, Amphictyonic League of Delphi, Δελφική Αμφικτυονία, Anthelan Amphictiony

Description : Thermopylae (/θərˈmɒpɪliː/; Ancient Greek and Katharevousa: Θερμοπύλαι (Thermopylai) , Demotic Greek (Greek): Θερμοπύλες, (Thermopyles) ; "hot gates") is a place in Greece where a narrow coastal passage existed in antiquity. It derives its name from its hot sulphur springs. The Hot Gates is "the place of hot springs" and in Greek mythology it is the cavernous entrances to Hades. Thermopylae is world-famous for the battle that took place there between the Greek forces (notably the Spartans, Lachedemonians, Thebans and Thespians) and the invading Persian forces, commemorated by Simonides in the famous epitaph, "Go tell the Spartans, stranger passing by, That here obedient to their laws we lie." Thermopylae is the only land route large enough to bear any significant traffic between Lokris and Thessaly. This passage from north to south along the east coast of the Balkan peninsula requires use of the pass and for this reason Thermopylae has been the site of several battles. In ancient times it was called Malis which was named after the Malians (Ancient Greek: Μαλιεῖς), a Greek tribe that lived near present-day Lamia at the delta of the river, Spercheios in Greece. The Malian Gulf is also named after them. In the western valley of the Spercheios their land was adjacent to the Aenianes. Their main town was named Trachis. In the town of Anthela, the Malians had an important temple of Demeter, an early center of the Anthelan Amphictiony. An ancient Amphictyony, probably the earliest centered on the cult of Demeter at Anthele or Anthela (Ἀνθήλη), which lay on the coast of Malis south of Thessaly. This was the locality of Thermopylae. Thus those living near the temple were called Amphictyones ("dwellers-round"). The immediate "dwellers-round", presumably the first members, were the small states Aeniania, Malis and Doris. Certainly Thessaly did have a share including the states of the Boeotian tribes who lived around Thessaly (perioikoi, "living around"). Boeotia and Phocis, the most remote of them may have joined during or after the "First Sacred War", which led to the defeat of the old priesthood, and to a new control of the prosperity of the oracle at Delphi. As a result of the war, the Anthelan body was known henceforth as the Delphic Amphictyony and became the official overseer and military defender of the Delphic cult. The name of Hellenes, which was originally the name of a Boeotian tribe in Thessalic Phthia, (Achaea Phthiotis) may likely be related to the members of that league and may have been broadened to refer to all Greeks when the myth of their patriarch Hellen was invented.

See on map »