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The forgotten Second Battle of Thermopylae

As we all know, I love history; I have a degree in ancient history and apart from that, I read historical material often because I find it so damn interesting! After all, the best stories often live in our past…

So there I am doing research for the third book in the Rules of Magic series (IE – reading history and drinking tea!), and I ended up on the little known, second major battle at the pass of Thermopylae, in 279 BC. (Not to be confused with the first, very famous battle at Thermopylae in 480 BC between the Spartans and the Persians). Sometimes, truth, is stranger than fiction:

Brennus, the mustachioed leader of a Celtic tribe, leads a marauding army of Celts down through Macedonia, into Greece to plunder and wage war. After a brief detour at Thermopylae, where the Greeks decided to bottleneck his superior forces, he ends up sending 40 000 soldiers to Aetolia to butcher and brutalize the citizenry in an attempt to draw the Aetolian forces away from Thermopylae, to go and defend their homes.

The ploy worked, but at a heavy price for Brennus and the Celts – half of the 40 000 warriors were killed by the vengeful Greeks. The departure of the Aetolian forces allowed Brennus the opportunity to manoeuvre his army around Thermopylae and he decides to make directly for the heart of Greece – the Omphalos… AKA the centre of the world, the home of the oracle; the mega-rich, treasure laden temple complex of Delphi.

Greek cities, fatigued from war with Macedonia and constant in-fighting, were reluctant to raise troops to fight the invading Celts, and they were slow in response. Some small contingeents did send troops to protect the holy temple of Apollo at Delphi, and the temple and surrounds were placed under siege by the overwhelmingly large forces of the Celts.

Capitulation was merely a matter of time. 100 years before, a Celtic army had sacked the mightiest city in the world – Rome – and the Celtic tribes were renowned for their tenacity and savagery. But the Greek Gods had not yet been heard!

Apollo himself, the God of the Sun, hid his face, and the region got plagued by torrential storms and earthquakes! The camps of the Celts were devastated, their tents collapsed and peace disturbed. Struggling to hold formation or even stand, in sliding rivers of mud, the Celts were afflicted most savagely by the elements.

Enheartened by the clear indications that the gods were on their side, the Grecian allies of Delphi – still gravely outnumbered – rushed to the aid of the temple, and proceeded to rout the Celtic army. The fighting was fierce, and Brennus was gravely injured. The Celts retreated, and Brennus committed suicide, partly because of the extent of his injuries, partly at the failure of his great campaign.

Harrased by Greek forces, the Celts retreated to Eastern Turkey and settled in a region that become known over time, as Galatia – which comes from the Greek word Galatae – which was Greek for Celt.

It just goes to show, write off the Greek Gods at your peril!

Just to remind you that I don’t sit around and drink tea and read all day, Book 2 of the Rules of Magic – Court of Fey – is currently under its final edit and is almost 105 000 words. It’s a really good book, NO SPOILERS – but it’s longer, has more world-building, magic systems, and Plot twists with EPIC fight scenes than book one. If you haven’t yet gotten your copy of Bad Medicine (book one), we’d encourage you to keep an eye on our Amazon page for a fun surprise in the coming weeks…

More soon!

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