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Battle of Thermopylae August 480 BC

Thermopylae or Thermopílai in Greek, means hot gates. It is so called because of the hot springs in the area.

Pronounce Thermopylae


 


Where is Thermopylae Located?

Thermopylae, or Thermopylai, is a very narrow pass on Greece's east coast. Back then it was the entrance to Greece from the north. The pass is 4 miles or 6 kilometers long.

Here is a map:



MAP OF THE BATTLE OF THERMOPYLAE, 480 BC
CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE


 

At the time of the battle, the cliffs where right by the sea, making the pass a real pass. Today, the water is about a mile away.

 

Who Fought the Battle of Thermopylae?

Greek King Leonidas, 300 Spartans,

1,100 Boeotians, and their slaves

vs.

Persian King Xerxes and a huge Persian army.

 

The size of the Persian army differs depending on who you ask. Some say Xerxes had 200,000 troops, some say it was closer to 400,000.

In any event, the Battle of Thermopylae is most likely one of the most outnumbered battles ever fought.

All-Time Records in History
Most outnumbered battle in history
 

 

LEONIDAS AT THERMOPYLAE
LEONIDAS AT THERMOPYLAE
PAINTING BY JACQUES LOUIS DAVID


 

Battle Action

The Spartans kept a much larger Persian army busy, but busy long enough for the Greeks at home to get ready to defeat the Persians?


 


EK received mail from Brian:

The defense that the Spartans put up in the pass for 3 days didn't in any way help them in the war, since it would only take 1 week max for Xerxes to reach Athens, which was his ultimate goal, and the goal that he reached, it left no time for the defenders to create a strong enough defense against him, the only reason that he turned back is because he lost his naval supply lines when he lost most of his fleet at the battle of salamis.

Thanks Brian!


The battle lasted two or three days and the Greeks might have been even more successful if Greek traitor Ephialtes wouldn't have shown the Persians a secret path around the pass. This path enabled the Persians to attack the Greeks from both sides.

 

The Exact Dates of the Battle of Thermopylae

The Battle of Thermopylae took place over a period of three days in mid-August 480 BC. The exact dates are not known.

During the first two days, the Persians suffered many losses. At the end of the second day, the Persians were shown the pass, which led them behind the Greek army.

Parallel to their attack at Thermopylae, the Persians attacked at sea in the naval Battle of Artemisium. When the Greeks heard about the setback at Thermopylae, they withdrew southward.

 

Who Won the Battle of Thermopylae?

The Persians won the battle but the Greeks won the war.

The Battle of Thermopylae was part of the