Thermopyles (“Thermopylae” in Ancient Greek) is a mountain passing in Central Greece. The region has taken its name from the nearby springs of “thermal” waters (Thermo – pylae; pylea=gate).
The path takes from Lokris to Thessaly, through Mount Oiti and the Maliakos Gulf.
Thermopylae are mainly known due to the Battle of Thermopylae, in 480 b.C. In the times of Leonidas, in 480 b.C. the passing was a narrow path (approx. 12 meters) below the hill. Today, the passing ranges from 1,5 to 3 Km wide, because of the Sperchios river delta.
The thermal springs, after which the region is named, still exists in the roots of the hill.
A Glorious Slaughter – Brief Information
To the 300 Spartans and 700 Thespians that fought under Leonidas’s orders, we should add 300 slaves (“Eilotes”), one of each “Equal”.
- Equals were the citizens of Sparta, professional warriers and landlords.
- In battles, there was one Eilota for each Equal. He would accompany the Equal, carrying his shield and - in general – he would serve him, since it was forbidden to the Equals to perform any manual non-martial - work. During the battle, the Eilotes would be an infantry that fought as an auxiliary army together with the phalanx of Equals.
- In Thermoylae there were 4 monuments:
1. one for Leonidas
2. one for the 298 Equals
3. one for the 300 Eilotes
4. one for the 700 Thespians
- The dead on the battlefield were 298. The 299th – according to Herodotes – was sent out to accompany the 300th wounded back to Isthmos (city near Korinth). However, he did not stood up to the commitment, while the wounded soldier died. That is why he lived in contempt. Although he voluntarily and heroically fought in Plataies, he never managed to free himself from the shame that accompanied him to his death!