Thermopylae thərmŏp´ĭlē [key] [Gr.,=hot gates, from hot mineral springs nearby], pass, E central Greece, SE of Lamía, between the cliffs of Mt. Oeta and the Malic Gulf. Silt accumulation has gradually widened the once-narrow pass. In ancient times it was used as an entrance into Greece from the north. There in 480 BC, Leonidas with his Spartans and their allies lost a heroic battle to the Persians under Xerxes I (see Persian Wars ). At the pass in 279 BC, the Greeks held back the Gauls under Brennus , who ultimately broke through, and, in 191 BC, Antiochus III of Syria was defeated there by the Romans.

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