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amphictyony(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.
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.).