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amphictyony

amphictyony (ămfĭkˈtēōˌnē, –ŏˌnē, –ənēˌ) [key], 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.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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