narrow land passage along the Malian Gulf in ancient Greece, from Greek thermos "hot" (from PIE root *gwher- "to heat, warm") + pylai, plural of pylē "gate; mountain pass, entrance into a region" (see pylon). In reference to nearby hot sulfur springs. Often simply hai pylai "the gates." Figurative of heroic resistance against overwhelming numbers since the battle fought there between the Greeks and Persians in 480 B.C.E.
updated on January 10, 2021