A famous pass (its name mean literally "the hot gates") leading from Thessaly
into Locris, and the only road by which an invading army can penetrate from
northern into southern Greece. It lies south of the present course of the
river Sperchius, between Mount Oeta and what, in ancient times, an impassable
morass bordering on the Maliac Gulf. In the pass are several hot springs,
from Thermopylae probably received the first part of its name. Thermopylae
is best known as the scene of the heroic death of Leonidas and his 300 spartans
in their attempt to stem the tide of Persian invasion (480 BC).
Again, in 279 BC, Brennus, at the head of a Gallic
army, succeeded, through the same treachery that had secured a victory to
Xerxes, in forcing the united Greeks to withdraw
from the pass.