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(ămfĭk`tēō'nē, –ŏ'nē, –ənē'), in ancient Greece, a league connected with maintaining a temple or shrine. There were a number of these, but by far the most important was the Great, or Delphic, Amphictyony (or simply the Amphictyonic League), a league originally of 12 tribes. It had meetings in the spring at the temple of Demeter at Anthela near Thermopylae and in the autumn at Delphi. The Amphictyonic Council passed legislation regarding religious matters and had power to declare a sacred war against an offender. By the 6th cent. B.C. the religious organization had begun to have political influence. The greater city-states, by using pressure on the lesser, were able to control laws and policy. Philip II of Macedon, after getting on the council, used sacred wars as a pretext for furthering his conquests in Greece. Thereafter, the power of the Great Amphictyony was minimal, although it continued in existence until late in the Roman Empire.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a religious-political union of tribes and cities in ancient Greece organized for the joint performance of religious rites in a common sanctuary, protection and use of its treasure, and peaceful solution of conflicts arising among members. Amphictyony members worked out rules of warfare, which were obligatory for the given group. The wars of amphictyony members were called “Sacred Wars.” Amphictyonies were known at the sanctuaries of Apollo: the Delphic-Pylaean amphictyony at Delphi and the Delian amphictyony on the island of Delos. At the sanctuaries of Poseidon there were the Calabrian amphictyony in Calabria and the Onchestos amphictyony in Boeotia, among others. The most evidence that has been preserved concerns the Delphic-Pylaean amphictyony. In the most ancient times it consisted of 12 communities of Middle Greece and Thessaly. Later its composition changed, and it was headed by a council of representatives of the communities (each community had two votes). The amphictyony protected its sanctuaries and organized the Pythian religious festivals, which had Panhellenic significance. The Delphic amphictyony influenced state relations in the entire Greek world, and it also established courts of arbitration. The importance of amphictyonies was lost after the Roman conquest of Greece (146 B.C.).


Bürgel, H. Die pyläcisch-delphische Amphiktyonie. Munich, 1877.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Consider one example of the ways in which the Articles of Confederation committed the same mistakes as the ancient Amphictyonic League.
The Greek model will inspire not only Cruce and Sully, but also Grotius, the abbot Saint Pierre, Jean Jacques Rousseau, Immanuel Kant, and even Simon Bolivar, architect of the Amphictyonic Congress in Panama in 1826.
A colleague of the Phocian general Philomelus, he led the Phocian withdrawal from central Greece after the Boeotians and the Amphictyonic Council defeated them at Neon (late 354); appointed commander in chief after Philomelus' death, he used the Delphic treasury to hire mercenaries and to buy the support of Lycophron of Pherae (near Velestinon); campaigned successfully in Locris, Doria, and Boeotia at the head of a large army (353); made alliances with Sparta, Athens, Corinth, and Achaea; defeated and killed by Philip II of Macedon, champion of the Amphictyonic League, at the battle of Volo (352).
First, the opposition between [Unknown Words Omitted] and [Unknown Words Omitted], already incorporated in the Amphictyonic oath of the Archaic period, and much discussed in recent years,(16) occurs in his text only once or twice (6.27.1; 7.8 [Gamma] 3).
19.39 and 334).(25) The purpose of Philip was to ensure the collaboration of the Thessalian League in bringing the Sacred War to an end and the full support of the representatives of the Thessalians and the neighbouring 'tribes' on the Council of the Amphictyonic League, which (he foresaw) would decide the fate of Phocis.