Thermopylae (254 CE)


Thermopylae (Greek: Θερμοπύλαι; "Hot Gates"): small pass in Greece, site of several battles.

Thermopylae, view from electricity mast
Thermopylae, view from electricity mast

In 250 CE, an army of Gothic people from what is now Moldava/Ukraine, invaded the Roman Empire. It was commanded by a leader named Cniva. The warriors crossed the Danube, fought several battles in Moesia and Thrace, swept through Macedonia, were unable to capture Thessaloniki (254?), and proceeded into Thessaly.

The Roman pronconsul of Achaea (Greece), a man named Marianus, an Athenian named Philostratus (not the famous sophist or his son), and Dexippus of Boeotia recruited forces and blocked the pass of Thermopylae. They fortified the pass and were able to ward off the invasion. The probable date is 254.

A description of this battle, written by the Athenian historian Dexippus (c.210-273) was discovered in 2010 on a palimpsest kept in Vienna. The battle is important because it is one of the first instances of local armies taking over the defense of the Roman Empire. One day, the empire would desintegrate into smaller, local units.


This page was created in 2020; last modified on 10 August 2020.