[From Harper's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities. 1898. From PERSEUS DIGITAL LIBRARY.]
Literally ,"those dwelling around,," but in a special sense applied to populations which at stated times met at the same sanctuary to keep a festival in common, and to transact common business.
The most famous and extensiveunion of the kind was that called, par excellence, the Amphictyonic League, whose common sanctuaries were the temple of Pythian Apollo at Delphi, and the temple of Demeter at Anthela, near Pylae or Thermopylae. After Pylae the assembly was named the Pylaean, even when it met at Delphi, and the deputies of the league Pylagorae. The league was supposed to be very ancient, as old even as the name of Hellenes; for its founder was said to be Amphictyon, the son of Deucalion and brother of Hellen, the common ancestor of all Hellenes. ( Herod.vii. 200.)
It included twelve populations: Malians, Phthians, Aenianes or Oetoeans, Dolopes, Magnetians, Perrhoebians, Thessalians, Locrians, Dorians, Phocians, Boeotians, and Ionians, together with the colonies of each. Though in later times their extent and power were very unequal, yet in point of law they all had equal rights. Besides protecting and preserving those two sanctuaries, and celebrating from the year B.C. 586 on wards the Pythian Games, the league was bound to maintain certain principles of international right, which forbade them, for instance, ever to destroy utterly any city of the league, or to cut off its water, even in time of war.
To the assemblies, which met every spring and autumn, each nation sent two hieromnmones (= wardens of holy things) and several pylagorae. The latter took part in the debates, but only the former had the right of voting. When a nation included several States, these took by turns the privilege of sending deputies. But the stronger states, such as the Ionian Athens or the Dorian Sparta, were probably allowed to take their turn oftener than the rest, or even to send to every assembly.
When violations of the sanctuaries or of popular right took place the assembly could inflict fines, or even expulsion; and a State that would not submit to the punishment had a "holy war," declared against it. By such a war the Phocians were expelled B.C. 346, and their two votes given to the Macedonians; but the expulsion of the former was withdrawn because of the glorious part they took in defending the Delphian temple when threatened by the Gauls in B.C. 279, and at the same time the Aetolian community, which had already made itself master of the sanctuary, was acknowledged as a new member of the league. In B.C. 191 the number of members amounted to seventeen, who nevertheless had only twenty-four votes, seven having two votes each, the rest only one. Under the Roman rule the league continued to exist, but its action was now limited to the care of the Delphian temple. It was reorganized by Augustus, who incorporated the Malians, Magnetians, Aenianes, and Pythians with the Thessalians, and substituted for the extinctDolopes the city of Nicopolis in Acarnania, which he had founded after the battle of Actium.
The last notice we find of the league is in the second century A.D.
See Freeman, Hist. of Federal Government (2d ed. 1893); Tittmann, Ueber den Bund der Amphictyonen; Mºller, Dorians; and Grote, vol. ii. chap. ii.
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