). 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 extensive union 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.
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 ἱερομνήμονες
(= 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their two votes given to the Macedonians; but the expulsion of the former was withdrawn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 extinct Dolopes 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.
; Tittmann, Ueber den Bund der Amphictyonen;
and Grote, vol. ii. chap. ii.