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PHOCIS ( Φωκίς: Eth. Φωκεύς, Eth. Phocensis), a small country in central Greece, bounded on the N. by Doris, on the NE. and E. by the Locri Epicnemidii and Opuntii, on the SE. by Boeotia, on the W. by the [p. 2.604]Ozolian Locrians, and on the S. by the Corinthian gulf. The Phocians at one period of their history possessed a sea-port, Daphnus, on the Euboean sea, intervening between the Locri Epicnemidii and Opuntii (Strab. x. pp. 424, 425.) Phocis is a mountainous country. The greater part of it is occupied by the lofty and rugged range of Parnassus, the lower portion of which, named Cirphis, descends to the Corinthian gulf between Cirrha and Anticyra: below Cirphis was the fertile valley of Crissa, extending to the Corinthian gulf. On the NE. and E. were the Locrian mountains, lofty and difficult of access on the side of the Epicnemidii, but less precipitous on the side of the Opuntii. [LOCRIS] Between Mount Parnassus and the Locrian mountains flowed the river Cephissus, which empties itself into the lake Copais in Boeotia. [BOEOTIA, p. 410, seq.] In the valley of the Cephissus are some narrow but fertile plains. The only other rivers in Phocis, besides the Cephissus and its tributaries, are the Pleistus, flowing by Delphi [DELPHI], and the He. racleius, flowing into the Corinthian gulf near Bulis. [BULIS]

Phocis is said to have been originally inhabited by several of those tribes who formed the population of Greece before the appearance of the Hellenes. Among the earliest inhabitants we find mention of Leleges (Dicaearch. p. 5), Thracians (Strab. ix. p.401; Thuc. 2.29; comp. Paus. 1.41.8), and Hyantes. (Strab. l.c.) The aboriginal inhabitants were conquered by the Phlegyae from Orchomenus. (Paus. 8.4.4, 10.4.1.) The country around Tithorea and Delphi is said to have been first called Phocis from Phocus, a son of Ornytion, and grandson of Sisyphus of Corinth; and the name is said to have been afterwards extended to the whole country from Phocus, a son of Aeacus, who arrived there not long afterwards. (Paus. 2.29.3, 10.1.1.) This statement would seem to show that the Phocians were believed to be a mixed Aeolic and Achaean race, as Sisyphus was one of the Aeolic heroes, and Aeacus one of the Achaean. In the Trojan War the inhabitants appear under the name of Phocians, and were led against Troy by Schedius and Epistrophus, the sons of Iphitus. (Hom. Il. 2.517.

Phocis owes its chief importance in history to the celebrated oracle at Delphi, which originally belonged to the Phocians. But after the Dorians had obtained possession of the temple, they disowned their connection with the Phocians ; and in historical times a violent antipathy existed between the Phocians and Delphians. [DELPHI, p. 762.]

The Phocians proper dwelt chiefly in small towns situated upon either side of the Cephissus. They formed an ancient confederation, which assembled in a building named Phocicum, near Daulis. (Paus. 10.5.1.) They maintained their independence against the Thessalians, who made several attempts to subdue them before the Persian War, and upon one occasion they inflicted a severe loss upon the Thessalians near Hyampolis. (Hdt. 8.27, seq.; Paus. 10.1.) When Xerxes invaded Greece, the Thessalians were able to wreak their vengeance upon their ancient enemies. They conducted the Persian army into Phocis, and twelve of the Phocian cities were destroyed by the invaders. The inhabitants had previously escaped to the summits of Parnassus or across the mountains into the territory of the Locri Ozolae. (Hdt. 8.32, seq.) Some of the Phocians were subsequently compelled to serve in the army of Mardonius, but those who had taken refuge on Mt. Parnassus sallied from their fastnesses and annoyed the Persian army. (Hdt. 9.17, 31; Paus. 10.1.11.)

It has been already remarked that the oracle at Delphi originally belonged to the Phocians. The latter, though dispossessed by the Delphians, had never relinquished their claims to it. In B.C. 450 the oracle was again in their possession; the Lacedaemonians sent an army to deprive them of it and restore it to the Delphians; but upon the retreat of their forces, the Athenians marched into Phocis, and handed over the temple to the Phocians. (Thuc. 1.112.) In the Peloponnesian War the Phocians were zealous allies of the Athenians. (Comp. Thuc. 3.95.) In the treaty of Nicias (B.C. 421), however, it was expressly stipulated that the Delphians should be independent of the Phocians (Thuc. 5.18); and from this time the temple continued in the undisputed possession of the Delphians till the Sacred War. After the battle of Leuctra (B.C. 371), the Phocians became subject to the Thebans. (Xen. Hell. vi. 5 § 23.) After the death of Epaminondas they deserted the Theban alliance; and the Thebans, in revenge, induced the Amphictyonic Council to sentence the Phocians to pay a heavy fine on the pretext of their having cultivated the Cirrhaean plain, B.C. 357. Upon their refusal to pay this fine, the Amphictyonic Council consecrated the Phocian territory to Apollo, as Cirrha had been treated two centuries before. Thereupon the Phocians prepared for resistance, and were persuaded by Philomelus, one of their chief citizens, to seize the temple at Delphi, and appropriate its treasures to their own defence. Hence arose the celebrated Sacred or Phocian War, which is narrated in all histories of Greece. When the war was at length brought to a conclusion by the aid of Philip, the Amphictyonic Council wreaked its vengeance upon the wretched Phocians. It was decreed that all the towns of Phocis, twenty-two in number, with the exception of Abae, should be destroyed, and the inhabitants scattered into villages, containing not more than fifty houses each ; and that they should replace by yearly instalments of fifty talents the treasures they had taken from the temple. The two votes, which they had had in the Amphictyonic Council, were taken away from them and given to Philip. (Diod. 16.60; Paus. 10.3; Dem. de Fals. Leg. p. 385.) The Phocians subsequently rebuilt several of their cities with the assistance of the Athenians and their old enemies the Thebans, who had joined the Athenians in their opposition to Philip. The Phocians fought on the side of Grecian independence at the battle of Chaeroneia and in the Lamiac war; and at a later period they resisted the Gauls, when they attempted to plunder the temple at Delphi. (Paus. 10.3.3.)

The chief town in Phocis, excepting DELPHI was ELATEIA situated upon the left bank of the Cephissus, on the highroad from Locris to Boeotia, in the natural march of an army from Thermopylae into central Greece. Next in importance was ABAE, also to the left of the Cephissus, upon the Boeotian frontier, celebrated for its ancient oracle of Apollo. The other towns of Phocis may be enumerated in the following order. Left of the Cephissus from N. to S. DRYMAEA, EROCHUS, TITHRONIUM, TRITAEA, HYAMPOLIS. Right of the Cephissus, and between this river and Mount Parnassus, LILAEA, CHARADRA, AMPHICAEA, LEDON, NEON, which was supplanted by TITHOREA [see NEON], PARAPOTAMII [p. 2.605]Between Parnassus and the Boeotian frontier, DAULIS, PANOPEUS, TRACHIS. On Mount Parnassus, LYCOREIA, DELPHI, CRISSA, ANEMOREIA, CYPARISSUS. West of Parnassus, and in the neighbourhood of the Corinthian gulf from N. to S., CIRRHA the port-town of Crissa and Delphi, CIRRHIS, MEDEON, ECHEDAMEIA, ANTICYRA, AMBRYSUS, MARATHUS, STIRIS, PHLYGONIUM, BULIS with its port MYCHUS (Dodwell, Classical Tour, vol. i. p. 155, seq.; Leake, Northern Greece, vol. ii. p. 69, seq.)


hide References (21 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (21):
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 16.60
    • Herodotus, Histories, 8.27
    • Herodotus, Histories, 8.32
    • Herodotus, Histories, 9.17
    • Herodotus, Histories, 9.31
    • Homer, Iliad, 2.517
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 10.1.11
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 10.3
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 10.4.1
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 1.41.8
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 8.4.4
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 10.1
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 10.1.1
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 10.3.3
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 10.5.1
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 2.29.3
    • Thucydides, Histories, 2.29
    • Thucydides, Histories, 5.18
    • Xenophon, Hellenica, 6.5
    • Thucydides, Histories, 1.112
    • Thucydides, Histories, 3.95
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