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Thessaly

Thessaly or Thessalia occupies the central part of the mainland in Greece. It is surrounded by high mountain ranges bordering Macedonia to the north, Sterea Ellada to the south, Epirus to the west and the eastern shoreline is on the Aegean.

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It has a higher percentage of flat land than any other part of the country. The mountains Pindos, Othrys, Ossa and Agrafa surround the entire plain. Among them Pinios river flows draining into the Aegean Sea after passing through the area of Tempi. This part was the home of ancient gods and Centaurs

Thessaly was a rich country and a major supplier of horse to Athens and other parts of Greece, governed by a few noble families owning most of the land and controlling the cities, especially Larissa, Crannon, Pheres and Pharsalus.

During the 5th and 4rth century B. C. Thessaly was a "federal" state that could, in time of war at least, be placed under the supreme leadership of a commander in chief called Tagos. It was divided into four major regions, Hestiaotis in the northwest, Pelasgiotis in the northeast, Thessaliotis in the southwest and Phthiotis in the southeast, however it is not clear enough how united they were.

People in the regions surrounding Thessaly, such as Dolopes from the Pindos range, Magnetes from Magnesia, Achzans from Phthiotis were at times subjected to a tribute by Thessalian kings (Xenophon's Hellenica, VI, I, 19). Thessalia was playing a major role in the protection of the sanctuary of Delphi as a leading member of the Delphic Amphictiony.

Mythology knows of several heroes named Thessalus who were supposed to have given their name to the region. One was the son of Heracles and Chalciope, daughter of Eurypylus, king of the island of Cos and a son of Poseidon, that Heracles killed on his way back from Troy because he didn't want to let him land in his island. This Thessalus became king of Cos as had been his grandfather and had two sons, Phidippus and Antiphus, who took part in the Trojan war (Iliad, II, 577-579) and, after coming back, settled in Thessalia, giving the region its name in memory of their father. Another Thessalus was a son of Jason and Medea who escaped his mother's wrath and fled to Iolcos to become king of the place at the death of Acastus, the son of Pelias.



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