Second Sacred War

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Second Sacred War on Wikipedia

Second Sacred War
Part of the First Peloponnesian War
Date440s BC
Result Brief Spartan-installed Delphian rule

The Second Sacred War was the Spartan defeat of Phocians at Delphi and the restoration of Delphian self-control.

In 458 or 457 BC, Phocians captured three towns in the Spartan metropolis of Doris. A Spartan army marched on Doris, defeated the Phocians, and restored Dorian rule. On their way back to Peloponnese, Athenians attacked the Spartan army; they were repelled, and Sparta's army returned home. After the Five Years Truce, Sparta embarked on a campaign of truncating "Athens' imperialistic ambitions in Central Greece".[1]

The Second Sacred War (Ancient Greek: ιερός πόλεμος)[1] was a conflict over the occupation of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi:[2] Spartans quickly removed the Athenian-backed Phocians and returned stewardship to the Delphians.[3] After the Spartans left, however, an Athenian army—led by Pericles—took the city and re-installed Phocian rule.[4]

Accepting the writings of Philochorus, a group of historians led by Karl Julius Beloch, Benjamin Dean Meritt, Theodore Wade-Gery, and Malcolm Francis McGregor argued that the Spartan ejection of the Phocians occurred in 449 BC, and that the Athenians re-installed them in 447 BC.[5][6] They were opposed by historians led by Arnold Wycombe Gomme and Felix Jacoby who, rejecting Philochorus' chronology, assert that both marches on Delphi happened in 448 BC.[7][8][9][10][11]

This Sacred War and the Third were the only two to be referred to as such in classical antiquity.[1] As of 1997, there was no extant evidence that these changes in Delphian governance had any effect on pilgrims to Pythia.[3]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Skoczylas, Frances Anne (August 1987). The concept of sacred war in Ancient Greece (Thesis). Vancouver: University of British Columbia. doi:10.14288/1.0097277. hdl:2429/26920.
  2. Thucydides (1910) [5th century BC], ΙΣΤΟΡΙΩΝ Α [HISTORY A.], Ιστορία του Πελοποννησιακού Πολέμου [History of the Peloponnesian War] (in Ἀρχαία ἑλληνικὴ), translated by Crawley, Richard, 112, VIAF 182669534
  3. 3.0 3.1 Dillon, Matthew (1997). "The Sanctity of Greek Pilgrims". Pilgrims and Pilgrimage in Ancient Greece. Milton Park: Routledge. p. 51. ISBN 0-415-12775-0.
  4. Plutarch (1859) [2nd century], Περικλής [Pericles], Βίοι Παράλληλοι [Parallel Lives] (in Ἀρχαία ἑλληνικὴ), translated by Dryden, John; Clough, Arthur Hugh, XXI
  5. Beloch, Karl Julius (1912). Griechische Geschichte [Greek History] (in Deutsch). 1 (second redesigned ed.). Strasbourg: Karl J. Trübner. p. 213. OCLC 697776390. Retrieved 13 November 2019.
  6. Meritt, Benjamin Dean; Wade-Gery, H. T.; McGregor, Malcolm Francis (1950). "The Chronological Background of the Fifty Years". The Athenian Tribute Lists. III. Princeton, New Jersey: American School of Classical Studies at Athens. pp. 178–179. OCLC 25343903.
  7. Gomme, A. W. (1956). A Historical Commentary on Thucydides: The Ten Years' War. II. Oxford: Clarendon Press. pp. 337& 409. LCCN 45004190.
  8. Cloché, Paul (1946). "La Politique Extèrieure d'Athènes de 454–453 á 446–5 avant J.–C" [The Foreign Policy of Athens from 454–453 to 446–5 BC]. Les Etudes Classiques (in français). Namur. 14: 23–25. ISSN 0014-200X. OCLC 1568337.
  9. Jacoby, Felix, ed. (1954–1964). Fragmente der griechischen Historiker [Fragments of the Greek Historians] (in Deutsch). Leiden: E. J. Brill.
  10. Meiggs, Russell (1972). "Epilogue". The Athenian Empire. Oxford: Clarendon Press. pp. 404–412. ISBN 0-19-814296-X.
  11. de Ste. Croix, G. E. M. (1972). The Origins of the Peloponnesian War. 189. London: Gerald Duckworth and Company.