Amphictyonic League

Amphictyonic League

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In the Archaic period of ancient Greece
Archaic period in Greece
The Archaic period in Greece was a period of ancient Greek history that followed the Greek Dark Ages. This period saw the rise of the polis and the founding of colonies, as well as the first inklings of classical philosophy, theatre in the form of tragedies performed during Dionysia, and written...

, an amphictyony , a "league of neighbors", or Amphictyonic League was an ancient association of Greek tribes formed in the dim past, before the rise of the Greek polis
Polis
Polis , plural poleis , literally means city in Greek. It could also mean citizenship and body of citizens. In modern historiography "polis" is normally used to indicate the ancient Greek city-states, like Classical Athens and its contemporaries, so polis is often translated as "city-state."The...

. The six Dorian cities of coastal southwest Asia Minor, or the twelve Ionian cities to the north, a dodecapolis forming an Ionian League
Ionian League
The Ionian League , also called the Panionic League, was a confederation formed at the end of the Meliac War in the mid-7th century BC comprising twelve Ionian cities .These were listed by Herodotus as*Miletus, Myus, and...

 emerging in the aftermath of a dimly-remembered "Meliac war" in the mid-7th century BCE, were already of considerable antiquity when the first written records emerge.

Thucydides
Thucydides
Thucydides was a Greek historian and author from Alimos. His History of the Peloponnesian War recounts the 5th century BC war between Sparta and Athens to the year 411 BC...

 made recollection of the Lelantine War
Lelantine War
The Lelantine War was a long-remembered military conflict between the two ancient Greek city states Chalkis and Eretria in Euboea which took place in the early Archaic period, at some time between ca 710 and 650 BC. The reason for war was, according to tradition, the struggle for the fertile...

, apparently fought in Euboea
Euboea
Euboea is the second largest Greek island in area and population, after Crete. The narrow Euripus Strait separates it from Boeotia in mainland Greece. In general outline it is a long and narrow, seahorse-shaped island; it is about long, and varies in breadth from to...

 sometime between the late 8th century BCE and the first half of the 7th century BCE:
"The war between Chalcis
Chalcis
Chalcis or Chalkida , the chief town of the island of Euboea in Greece, is situated on the strait of the Evripos at its narrowest point. The name is preserved from antiquity and is derived from the Greek χαλκός , though there is no trace of any mines in the area...

 and Eretria
Eretria
Erétria was a polis in Ancient Greece, located on the western coast of the island of Euboea, south of Chalcis, facing the coast of Attica across the narrow Euboean Gulf. Eretria was an important Greek polis in the 6th/5th century BC. However, it lost its importance already in antiquity...

 was the one in which most cities belonging to the rest of Greece were divided up into alliances with one side or the other."


Historians have puzzled over the broader meanings of "alliance" in such early times. "But comparatively large-scale associations lead more readily to contacts, to friendships and enmities at a distance than do little city-like units," George Forrest notes, remarking apropos that Phrygia
Phrygia
In antiquity, Phrygia was a kingdom in the west central part of Anatolia, in what is now modern-day Turkey. The Phrygians initially lived in the southern Balkans; according to Herodotus, under the name of Bryges , changing it to Phruges after their final migration to Anatolia, via the...

 and Assyria
Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

 were at war with each other about 720-710 BCE, raising tensions among interested Greeks.

In historic times, an amphictyony might survive as a form of religious organization enjoined to support specific temples or sacred places; traditional amphictyonies coordinated Olympic and Pythian games
Pythian Games
The Pythian Games were one of the four Panhellenic Games of Ancient Greece, a forerunner of the modern Olympic Games, held every four years at the sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi....

. Twelve members would meet at specific times in the same sanctuary to keep religious festivals and conduct other matters as well.

An early amphictyony centered on Kalaureia
Kalaureia
Kalaureia or Calauria is an island close to the coast of Troezen in the Peloponnesus of mainland Greece, part of the modern island-pair Poros.Strabo describes the coastwise journey along the Hermionic Gulf:-Pre-classical asylum:...

, an island close to the coast of Troezen
Troezen
Troezen is a small town and a former municipality in the northeastern Peloponnese, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Troizinia, of which it is a municipal unit....

 in the Peloponnesus sacred to Poseidon
Poseidon
Poseidon was the god of the sea, and, as "Earth-Shaker," of the earthquakes in Greek mythology. The name of the sea-god Nethuns in Etruscan was adopted in Latin for Neptune in Roman mythology: both were sea gods analogous to Poseidon...

, was noted by Strabo
Strabo
Strabo, also written Strabon was a Greek historian, geographer and philosopher.-Life:Strabo was born to an affluent family from Amaseia in Pontus , a city which he said was situated the approximate equivalent of 75 km from the Black Sea...

. Archaeology of the site suggested to Thomas Kelly that the sacred league was founded in the second quarter of the 7th century BCE, ca 680-650; before that date there were virtually no remains at the site, which could not have been used more than sporadically. The island was known at one time as Eirene (Εἰρήνη) ("Peace"), clearly in reference to the amphictiony. Strabo lists the poleis
Polis
Polis , plural poleis , literally means city in Greek. It could also mean citizenship and body of citizens. In modern historiography "polis" is normally used to indicate the ancient Greek city-states, like Classical Athens and its contemporaries, so polis is often translated as "city-state."The...

that belonged:
And there was also a kind of Amphictyonic League connected with this temple, a league of seven cities which shared in the sacrifice; they were Hermione
Ermioni
Ermioni is a small town and a former municipality in Argolis, Peloponnese, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Ermionida, of which it is a municipal unit. It is a popular tourist resort. It is on a very small out-cropping of the land facing the island of...

, Epidaurus
Epidaurus
Epidaurus was a small city in ancient Greece, at the Saronic Gulf. Two modern towns bear the name Epidavros : Palaia Epidavros and Nea Epidavros. Since 2010 they belong to the new municipality of Epidavros, part of the peripheral unit of Argolis...

, Aegina
Aegina
Aegina is one of the Saronic Islands of Greece in the Saronic Gulf, from Athens. Tradition derives the name from Aegina, the mother of Aeacus, who was born in and ruled the island. During ancient times, Aegina was a rival to Athens, the great sea power of the era.-Municipality:The municipality...

, Athens
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

, Prasïeis, Nauplïeis, and Orchomenus Minyeius; however, the Argives
Argos
Argos is a city and a former municipality in Argolis, Peloponnese, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Argos-Mykines, of which it is a municipal unit. It is 11 kilometres from Nafplion, which was its historic harbour...

 paid dues for the Nauplians, and the Lacedaemonians
Sparta
Sparta or Lacedaemon, was a prominent city-state in ancient Greece, situated on the banks of the River Eurotas in Laconia, in south-eastern Peloponnese. It emerged as a political entity around the 10th century BC, when the invading Dorians subjugated the local, non-Dorian population. From c...

 for the Prasians."

The Delphic Amphictyony


The least obscure and longest-lasting amphictyony was the Delphic or Great Amphictyonic League that was organized to support the greater temples of Apollo
Apollo
Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in Greek and Roman mythology...

 and Demeter
Demeter
In Greek mythology, Demeter is the goddess of the harvest, who presided over grains, the fertility of the earth, and the seasons . Her common surnames are Sito as the giver of food or corn/grain and Thesmophoros as a mark of the civilized existence of agricultural society...

. The League council had religious authority and the power to pronounce punishments against offenders. Punishments could range from fines to expulsion and to conduct sacred wars. The Amphictyonic League also set the rules of battle as to protect sanctuaries and/or impose sentences on those who molested sanctuaries.

Based on legend, the Great Amphictyonic League was founded somewhat after the Trojan War
Trojan War
In Greek mythology, the Trojan War was waged against the city of Troy by the Achaeans after Paris of Troy took Helen from her husband Menelaus, the king of Sparta. The war is among the most important events in Greek mythology and was narrated in many works of Greek literature, including the Iliad...

, for the protection and administration of the temple of Apollo
Apollo
Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in Greek and Roman mythology...

 in Delphi and temple of Demeter
Demeter
In Greek mythology, Demeter is the goddess of the harvest, who presided over grains, the fertility of the earth, and the seasons . Her common surnames are Sito as the giver of food or corn/grain and Thesmophoros as a mark of the civilized existence of agricultural society...

 in Anthele
Malians (Greek tribe)
The Malians were a Greek tribe that resided at the mouth of the river Spercheios in Greece. The Malian Gulf is named after them. In the western valley of the Spercheios, their land was adjacent to the Aenianes. Their main town was Trachis. In the town of Anthele, the Malians had an important...

 (Ἀνθήλη), near Thermopylae
Thermopylae
Thermopylae is a location in Greece where a narrow coastal passage existed in antiquity. It derives its name from its hot sulphur springs. "Hot gates" is also "the place of hot springs and cavernous entrances to Hades"....

. The founding myth
Founding myth
A national myth is an inspiring narrative or anecdote about a nation's past. Such myths often serve as an important national symbol and affirm a set of national values. A national myth may sometimes take the form of a national epic...

 claimed that it had been founded in the most distant past by an eponymous founder
Eponym
An eponym is the name of a person or thing, whether real or fictitious, after which a particular place, tribe, era, discovery, or other item is named or thought to be named...

 Amphictyon
Amphictyon
Amphictyon , in Greek mythology, was the second son of Deucalion and Pyrrha, although there was also a tradition that he was autochthonous ; he is also said to be a son of Hellen son of Deucalion and Pyrrha. Amphictyon was king of Thermopylae and married a daughter of Cranaus of Athens...

, brother of Hellen
Hellen
Hellen , the son of Deucalion and Pyrrha, brother of Amphictyon and father of Aeolus, Xuthus, and Dorus. His name is also another name for Greek, meaning a person of Greek descent or pertaining to Greek culture, and the source of the adjective "Hellenic".Each of his sons founded a primary tribe of...

, the common ancestor of all Hellenes. Representatives of the twelve members met in Thermopylae in spring and in Delphi in autumn.

The twelve founders enumerated by Aeschines
Aeschines
Aeschines was a Greek statesman and one of the ten Attic orators.-Life:Although it is known he was born in Athens, the records regarding his parentage and early life are conflicting; but it seems probable that his parents, though poor, were respectable. Aeschines' father was Atrometus, an...

 were the Aenianes or Oetaeans (Αἰνιᾶνες, Οἰταῖοι), the Boeotians (Βοιωτοί) of Thebes, the Dolopes (Δόλοπες), the Dorians (Δωριείς) of Sparta
Sparta
Sparta or Lacedaemon, was a prominent city-state in ancient Greece, situated on the banks of the River Eurotas in Laconia, in south-eastern Peloponnese. It emerged as a political entity around the 10th century BC, when the invading Dorians subjugated the local, non-Dorian population. From c...

, the Ionians
Ionians
The Ionians were one of the four major tribes into which the Classical Greeks considered the population of Hellenes to have been divided...

 (Ἴωνες) of Athens
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

, the Phthia
Phthia
Phthia , Phthíē ) in ancient Greece was the southernmost region of ancient Thessaly, on both sides of Othrys Mountain. It was the homeland of the Myrmidones tribe, who took part in the Trojan War under Achilles....

n Achaeans (Ἀχαιοί), the Locrians
Locrians
The Locrians were an ancient Greek tribe in Greece. The Locrians spoke the Locrian dialect, a Doric-Northwest dialect, which indicates that they may have been relatives of the Dorians. They inhabited the ancient region of Locris in Central Greece....

 (Λοκροί) [Opuntians (Ὀπούντιοι) and Ozolians (Ὀζολοί)], the Magnesia
Magnesia Prefecture
Magnesia Prefecture was one of the prefectures of Greece. Its capital was Volos. It was established in 1899 from the Larissa Prefecture. The prefecture was disbanded on 1 January 2011 by the Kallikratis programme, and split into the peripheral units of Magnesia and the Sporades.The toponym is...

ns (Μάγνητες), the Malians
Malians (Greek tribe)
The Malians were a Greek tribe that resided at the mouth of the river Spercheios in Greece. The Malian Gulf is named after them. In the western valley of the Spercheios, their land was adjacent to the Aenianes. Their main town was Trachis. In the town of Anthele, the Malians had an important...

 (Μαλιεῖς), the Perrhaebians (Περραιβοί), the Phocians (Φωκεῖς), the Pythia
Pythia
The Pythia , commonly known as the Oracle of Delphi, was the priestess at the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, located on the slopes of Mount Parnassus. The Pythia was widely credited for her prophecies inspired by Apollo. The Delphic oracle was established in the 8th century BC...

ns (Πύθιοι) of Delphi
Delphi
Delphi is both an archaeological site and a modern town in Greece on the south-western spur of Mount Parnassus in the valley of Phocis.In Greek mythology, Delphi was the site of the Delphic oracle, the most important oracle in the classical Greek world, and a major site for the worship of the god...

, and the Thessalians (Θεσσαλοί). The League doctrine required that no member would be entirely wiped out in war and no water supply of any member would be cut even in wartime. It did not prevent members from fighting about the dominance over the temples.

Originally a religious organization, the Amphictyonic League became politically important in the 6th century BCE, when larger city-states began to use it to apply pressure to the lesser ones. In 356 BCE Phocians captured and sacked Delphi, and sacred war was declared against them. After a ten-year war
Third Sacred War
The Third Sacred War was fought between the forces of the Delphic Amphictyonic League, principally represented by Thebes, and latterly by Philip II of Macedon, and the Phocians...

 the Phocians were expelled from the League in 346 BCE and their two votes were given to Macedon
Macedon
Macedonia or Macedon was an ancient kingdom, centered in the northeastern part of the Greek peninsula, bordered by Epirus to the west, Paeonia to the north, the region of Thrace to the east and Thessaly to the south....

ians who had helped to defeat them. Philip II of Macedonia used its power to further his expansionistic conquests in Greece. In 279, the Phocians were readmitted after they defended Delphi against an attack by the Gauls
Gauls
The Gauls were a Celtic people living in Gaul, the region roughly corresponding to what is now France, Belgium, Switzerland and Northern Italy, from the Iron Age through the Roman period. They mostly spoke the Continental Celtic language called Gaulish....

, and Aetolians – who already dominated the Delphi sanctuary – were admitted as new members. In the 3rd century BCE the Soteria (festival)
Soteria (festival)
The Soteria were ancient festivals held in many Greek cities from the 3rd century BC. They honoured the saviour of a danger and could be dedicated to all the gods or only one . Heroic men regarded as deliverers were sometimes associated to the divinities, e.g. Aratus at Sicyon.The most famous...

 was held in honour to the Greek victory against the Gauls.

By 191 BCE the League had 17 members but only the most dominant one had the two votes, when others had only one.

The league continued to exist under the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 but its authority was limited to the care of the temple of Apollo at Delphi. The Roman emperor Augustus
Augustus
Augustus ;23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14) is considered the first emperor of the Roman Empire, which he ruled alone from 27 BC until his death in 14 AD.The dates of his rule are contemporary dates; Augustus lived under two calendars, the Roman Republican until 45 BC, and the Julian...

 incorporated the Aenianes, Malians, Magnetians and Pythians with Thessalians. Since Dolopes had vanished, he gave their position to the city of Nicopolis
Nicopolis
Nicopolis — or Actia Nicopolis — was an ancient city of Epirus, founded 31 BC by Octavian in memory of his victory over Antony and Cleopatra at Actium the previous year. It was later the capital of Epirus Vetus...

.

The Amphictyonic League vanished some time in the 2nd century CE.