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in Delphi, and the other in the autumn, in the temple of Demeter, at

Thermopylae. Its members were called Amphictyons, and were chosen as

deputies by the twelve states represented in the court. The delegates

from each state consisted of a Hieromnemon, or chief, and several

subordinates called Pylagoroe; but each delegation acted as a unit in the

Council, and cast two votes in the name of the state represented. The

different tribes who, by the appointment of deputies, recognized the

authority of the Amphictyons were the Thessalians, the Boeotians, the

Dorians, the Ionians, the Perrhaebians, the Magnetes, the Locrians, the

Etaeans, the Achaeans, the Phodans, the Dolopians, and the Malians. From

the names of these constituent peoples it will readily be seen how

ancient was the Amphictyonic institution; for several of these tribes had

virtually disappeared before the classical age of Greece.

Among the first duties of the great Council was to uphold the influence

of the oracle and temple of Delphi. The interests of the states

represented were carefully, though not always efficiently, guarded. On

the assumption of their duties the deputies were required to take the

following oath: "We will not destroy any Amphictyonic town, or cut it off

from running water in war or peace. If any one shall do so, we will march

against him and destroy his city. If any one shall plunder the property

of the god, or shall be cognizant thereof, or shall take treacherous

counsel against the things in his temple at Delphi, we will punish him

with foot and hand and voice, and by every means in our power."

It is clear from the tenor of this obligation that the primary objects of

the Council were religious rather than secular. It was only in later

developments that the Amphictyons became an important power in the

political affairs of Greece; nor did their influence ever become so great

as to entitle them to be considered a congress, in the modern sense of

that word. Perhaps the most important general result of the organization

was that it tended to the nationality of Greece. The line was thus drawn

more distinctly than ever between Greek and Barbarian. The Amphictyons

were themselves united in one body, and the unity of the twelve states

represented was thereby symbolized and stimulated. The name of Hellenes,

applied to the whole Greek people, acquired a new significance because of

this federal title adopted by the Council.

A second result of scarcely less importance was that of a stabilization

of territorial limits for the several Greek states. This was one of the

matters of which the Amphictyony took special cognizance. The

determination of borders which might not be disputed was a matter of

great moment in the maintenance of peace and the promotion of


The early character of the Council may be inferred from its relation to

the First Sacred War, which occurred between the years B. C. 595 and 585.

The Phocian town of Crissa was situated on the heights of Parnassus, near

the oracle of Apollo. Its territory extended from the mountains to the

gulf of Corinth. Its seaport was the little town of Cirrha. Having

commercial advantages it grew to importance. The visitors who came from

all parts of the Grecian world to consult the oracle landed and embarked

at Cirrha. With the increase of population the place became ambitious.

Crissa, not without cause, grew jealous; and, when the Cirrhaeans

proceeded to enrich themselves by levying exorbitant contributions upon

the pilgrims going to and from the shrine of Apollo, took cognizance of

the matter and declared war. The Thessalians and Athenians were summoned

to the aid of Crissa, and for ten years Cirrha was invested by the forces

of the Council. At last the town was taken by a stratagem not very

honorable in so sacred a cause. It is said that, at the suggestion of

Solon, the lawgiver of Athens, the waters of the river Plistus, which

flowed through the besieged city, were poisoned, and the Cirrhaeans were

thus driven to surrender. The town was leveled to the ground. The rich

plain in which it stood, extending northward towards Delphi, was

consecrated to Apollo, and curses were pronounced upon him who henceforth

should ever attempt its cultivation. (1) Thus, by the

________________________________________ It was in this plain that the

Pythian games were celebrated. See p. 51 f.