Its center was the sanctuary of Demeter in Antheli, near Thermopylae.

The Delphic Amphictyonia was a federation of twelve tribes of Central Greece and Thessaly that was initially a religious union, while later it acquired political importance. The Amphictyonic Congress took place twice a year and each tribe had two votes. During the Roman years its power decreased and eventually the Amphictyonia was replaced by the Panhellenion, founded by the emperor Hadrian. The power it acquired was such that it played a dominant role in the region until at least the 4th century BC.


Already from the 7th century BC. there was an amphictyony of the tribes of central Greece and Thessaly. Its center was the sanctuary of Demeter in Antheli, near Thermopylae. Delphi also joined this dispute. Over time he acquired enhanced powers in the administration of the sanctuary of Apollo in Delphi and at the same time great political power.


Twelve Greek tribes participated in the Amphictyonic Congress. These were the Thessalians, the Boeotians (dominant in Thebes), the Dorians (dominant in Sparta), the Ionians (dominant in Athens), the Perraives, the Magnites, the Locrians, the Oitaians, the Achaeans, the Phocians, the Dolopes and the Malies. They were also the permanent members of the Congress. Each of these twelve tribes had two votes. The Aetolians, the Akarnanes, the Arcadians, the Ilians, the Triphylians and the small tribe of the Dryopi were still represented at the Congress, but without the right to vote. Each tribe sent 2 delegates to each conference. Of these, one was called "Pylagoras" and his main role was to participate in the discussion of the requests to be voted on and to represent his city, and the other was called "Hieromnimonas" and he was the one who voted. For the Lokros, one vote belonged to the Ozolus and one to the Opundians. After the Third Holy War, the votes of the defeated Phocians were taken by the Macedonians. A secretary was also elected and there was also the institution of the Amphictyonic church which was made up of hieromnemones, those pylagores who were in the sanctuary at the time the meeting took place, with the purpose of issuing the resolutions and essentially had no power. The Conference took place twice a year. In the spring (spring Pylaia) in Delphi, in the sanctuary of Apollo. Autumn (OporiniPylaia) in the Malian city of Antheli, near Thermopylae at the sanctuary of Demeter.


Initially, the Conference was more concerned with the surveillance of the sanctuary of Demeter in Antheli, which was actually called Amphictyonis. There was also a sanctuary of Amphictyona in the area. Afterwards, and after he started meeting in Delphi, he also took over the supervision of the sanctuary of Apollo, until his main work was done. Later, he also took over the organization of the Pythias. The Delphic Amphictyonia had control over the property and operation of the sanctuary, since it appointed the priests and other officials, always electing them from the residents of Delphi.


The creation of the amphictyony at a time when neither Athens, nor Sparta or Thebes had yet acquired a leading role in Greece, resulted in tribes with little power such as the Malii or the Perraivi having the same potential and the same value as powerful forces within the council. Even when the Thessalians occupied their neighboring peoples Perraives, Malies, Magnites, Dolopes and Achaeans they could participate as equals with the Thessalians and with a clear right to vote. This eventually, as well as the glamor of the Delphic oracle, gave enormous power to the congress, especially during the period before and after the Persian Wars. However, with the entry of the Macedonians and later the increasing influence of the Aetolians and Romans as well as the various alliances and rivalries between the cities did not leave the federation unaffected.

Holy Wars

Over time, the oracle of Delphi developed into an important pan-Hellenic religious and political center that enjoyed worldwide exposure and recognition. Gradually, on the initiative of the priesthood of the oracle, the Amphictyonies were created, an institution that initially had a purely religious character, but then turned into a basically political conference. At first the sanctuary belonged to the city of Krissa, but the priestly clans managed to gain their independence. The Crissians then in reaction imposed heavy taxation on the pilgrims and official emissaries of the cities to Delphi arriving from the port of Kirra. Then, the Amphictyones decide to punish the inhabitants of Krissa as they had caused serious complaints from the pilgrims, as well as a significant reduction in the revenues of the oracle. The result of this conflict was the declaration of the First Holy War, which lasted from 596 to 585 BC. The consequence of the war was the total destruction of Crissa and its honorable dedication to the god Apollo, Leto, Artemis and Athens. From this time onwards, under the direction of the Amphictyones, the Pythia began to be held every four years.[1][2]

In 449-448 BC the second sacred war takes place on the occasion of the attempt of the Phocians to invade Delphi and take over the sanctuary of Apollo. However, the Lacedaemonians sent an army, which repulsed the invasion and restored matters. After the departure of the Lacedaemonians, the Athenians, by order of Pericles, again gave the Phocians the hegemony of Delphi, as well as the direction of the Pythian games. In 421 BC the Peace of Nicaea brought back to Delphi their autonomy.[3][4]

In 356 BC the Amphictyonia imposes a fine on the Phocians because they cultivated lands that belonged to the sanctuary. They reacted, and led by Philomelos and Onomarchus began military operations resulting in the outbreak of the Third Holy War, in which the Athenians, the Lacedaemonians and the Macedonians (under the leadership of Philip II of Macedonia) were also involved. [ 5]

With the fear of the Phocaeans allayed, the Amphiseans begin to cultivate lands in the Crissian field and create buildings in the city of Kirra. Supporting their allies, the Thebans at the Amphictyonic Congress and seduced by them they try to accuse the Athenians of sacrilege. The Pylagoras of Athens, however, orator Aeschines managed to reverse the accusations and denounce them for trespassing on the land of Apollo and the forbidden Kirra. Philip takes over in 339 BC. to punish the Amphissians on behalf of Amphictyonia (Holy War IV) and Amphissa is destroyed.


The Delphic Amphictyony was the most important Amphictyony of ancient Greece. Almost all the Greek tribes were represented in it and the political power it acquired was enormous.

Source: Wikipedia


For more information

Contact us

Find us on the map
Or call us at (+30)22312 00200