Second Sacred War

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Second Sacred War
Date449–448 BC
Mainland Greece
Result Reinstatement of Phocis to its former sovereign rights over the oracle of Delphi.
No territory change
Commanders and leaders

The Second Sacred War took place during 449 BC and 448 BC and resulted in an indirect confrontation between Athens and Sparta during the First Peloponnesian War.

The events[edit]

In 457 BC, after the Battle of Oenophyta, the Athenians who had gained control over Boeotia and Phocis decided to detach the city of Delphi from the Ampictyony and hand it over to the Phocians. The basic reason for this action was Athen's desire to control the sanctuary, i.e. to have the right to promanteia. However, as an excuse for its action, Athens blamed the pro-Persian behaviour of the Amphictyony.

After the Phocians gained control over the sanctuary they minted coins on behalf of the Amphictyony on which features the head of Apollo and a lyre or laurel.

The war started in 449 BC when Sparta intervened and detached Delphi from Phocis and handing the city back to the Delphians, in effect making Delphi independent.[1] However, as allies of the Phocians, in 448 BC, Pericles led the Athenian army against Delphi, in order to reinstate Phocis to its former sovereign rights over the oracle of Delphi.[2]

Immediately after the Spartans left, the Athenians recaptured Delphi and handed it back to the Phocians, who held it until 421 BC, after which Delphi was finally proclaimed independent under the Peace of Nikias.

According to Matthew Dillon, the military actions of both Sparta and Athens were quick and effective and there is no available evidence that they affected pilgrims consulting the oracle.[1]


  1. ^ a b Matthew Dillon (1997), Pilgrims and Pilgrimage in Ancient Greece, 51
  2. ^ Thucydides, I, 112 and Plutarch, Pericles, XXI