|© 1998 Bernard SUZANNE||Last updated December 10, 1998|
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This page is part of the "tools" section of a site, Plato and his dialogues, dedicated to developing a new interpretation of Plato's dialogues. The "tools" section provides historical and geographical context (chronology, maps, entries on characters and locations) for Socrates, Plato and their time. By clicking on the minimap at the beginning of the entry, you can go to a full size map in which the city or location appears. For more information on the structure of entries and links available from them, read the notice at the beginning of the index of persons and locations.
Pass of East-central Greece along the coast of Locris
facing northern Euboea (area
The pass of Thermopylæ, whose name means "hot gates" in Greek, is a narrow pass about 4 miles long bordered by the sea on one side and the slopes of Mount Oeta on the other, and leading from Thessalia to central Greece (Herodotus, VII, 176). It owes its name to nearby hot springs that still exist. One tradition links this spring to the death of Heracles, who was exiled in the city of Trachis at the time : after he had put on him the tunic sent by Deiareina and smeared with the blood of Nessus that she thought was a love-charm, and the poison was burning him, he would have flung himself into a nearby stream and drowned. But the stream stayed hot as a result ever since.
The pass of Thermopylæ is most famous for having been the site of a famous battle in 480, at the start of the second Persian war, in which the army of Xerxes defeated the Greeks led by the spartan king Leonidas. In this battle, the Persians of Xerxes owed their victory to the treason of a local resident who showed them a little known path through the mountain that allowed them to secretly round the Greeks and attack them from the rear (Herodotus, VII, 198-238).
Near the northeastern entrance of the pass was a village called Anthele and a temple of Demeter which served as a meeting place for the Delphic Amphictyony.