Thermopylae (517 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 Late Antiquity, the Roman Empire was often under attack from foreign tribes, usually referred to as “barbarians”. Even when the names are more precise, like “Goths” or “Huns”, the invaders were a mix of all kinds of people. In the year 517 CE, towards the end of the reign of the Byzantine emperor Anastasius I, an army broke through. The Byzantine chronicler Marcellinus Comes refers to the invaders as "mounted Scythians",note a classicist phrase that may refer to Bulgars, Goths, the first Slavs, or a mix of these and other people.

Macedonia, Thessaly, and Epirus were looted. They managed to reach Thermopylae, but found it blocked. Marcellinus does not mention the name of the defenders. The emperor offered 1,000 pounds of gold to have the captives freed, but the barbarians considered this an insufficient amount of money and killed the prisoners in front of the walls of unidentified cities.

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