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Battle of Thermopylae (254)
Part of the Roman-Germanic wars
LocationThermopylae, Achaea
Result Roman victory
Roman Empire Goths
Commanders and leaders
Militia Unknown
Casualties and losses
Unknown Unknown

The Battle of Thermopylae in 254[1][2] was the successful defense of the pass of Thermopylae by local Greek militia under Marianus, the Roman proconsul of Achaea, during an invasion of the Balkans by the Goths.[3]


In 254 the Goths invaded and plundered Thrace and Macedonia.[1][4][5] In 1979, Herwig Wolfram regarded 254 as the date, while Mallan and Davenport in 2015 suggested 262.[6][1] Goltz and Hartmann estimated 254 as the date.[2] David Potter in 2016 rejected Mallan and Davenport's estimate and dated it to either 253 or 259.[4] The Goths attempted to storm Thessalonica with close order formations and assault columns.[5] The Thessalonicans mobilized to defend their city and beat off the attacks.[5] The Goths abandoned the siege and moved off to invade Greece south of Thermopylae, seeking to loot the gold and silver wealth of Greek temples.[5]


The Greeks learned of the Goths' approach and the Roman pronconsul Marianus, the Athenian Philostratus and the Boeotian Dexippus mobilized a militia to block the pass of Thermopylae.[5] The militia were armed with bronze or iron-tipped wooden pikes, small spears, axes and assorted weapons.[5] They set to work fortifying the pass.[5][1][4] Marianus gave a pre-battle speech to them, emphasizing the defense of the pass by previous generations of Greeks and Romans.[5]


The Graeco-Roman forces successfully blocked the Goths' way at Thermopylae and the Goths returned home, albeit with considerable loot.[7]


The engagement was recorded by the contemporary historian Dexippus.[8] A fragment of his work, discovered in Vienna in 2010, provides detail on the weapons, leadership and geography of the engagement.[8] The fragment cuts off before the battle's outcome.[5] Dexippus was used as source by the Byzantine chronicler George Syncellus, who mentioned the blocking of the pass and the Goths' return home with plunder.[7]



  • Johne, Klaus-Peter, ed (2008). "Valerian und Gallienus" (in de). Die Zeit der Soldatenkaiser. Krise und Transformation des Römischen Reiches im 3. Jahrhundert n. Chr. (235–284).. Berlin: Akademie Verlag. ISBN 978-3-05-004529-0. 
  • Mallan, Christopher; Davenport, Caillan (November 2015). "Dexippus and the Gothic Invasions: Interpreting the New Vienna Fragment". 
  • "War as Theater, from Tacitus to Dexippus". The Topography of Violence in the Greco-Roman World. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. 2016. ISBN 978-0472119820. 
  • Wolfram, Herwig (1990). Geschichte der Goten. Entwurf einer historischen Ethnographie. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0520069831. 

Further reading

Coordinates: 38°48′19″N 22°33′46″E / 38.80528°N 22.56278°E / 38.80528; 22.56278

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