Battle for Delphi - The Second Sacred War

The Second Sacred War took place between 449 BC-448 BC and is the first clear indication of the future hostilities between Athens and Sparta. Religious Sparta looking to return Delphi back into the hands of the cities priest, Athens having none of that and immediately marching out and returing the city back to their allies, the Phocians.

The war erupted when Sparta detached Delphi from Phocis and rendered it independent, handing it back to the Delphians [1]. The Athenians were however champions of the Phocians. Thereby, in 448 BC, Pericles led the Athenian army against Delphi, in order to reinstate Phocis in its former sovereign rights on the oracle of Delphi. [2]. Immediately after the Spartans had left, they recaptured Delphi and handed it back to the Phocians and re-stamping their control over the city [1].

According to M Dillon, the military actions of both Sparta and Athens were quick and effective and there is no evidence that they affected pilgrims consulting the oracle. In contrast to the Third Sacred War, this war was short and not so bitter.[1]

It is interesting to note that Sparta and Athens actions seemed to be unhindered by any other Greek city-states, indeed even Delphi and Phocis bent to the will of them both when they arrived. A clear indication of who was ruling Greece at that stage and the inevidable confrontation between them both.



*01 M. Dillon, Pilgrims and Pilgrimage in Ancient Greece, 51
*02. Thucydides, I, 112 and Plutarch, Pericles, XXI
*03 Plutarch, The Life of Pericles XXI



Note#1: Because of the military initervention of Sparta to return Delphi into their own hands, the priests of Delphi engraved the record that from now on, the Spartans had privilege of consulting the oracle before others. This was engraved upon the forehead of the bronze wolf which stood there.
The Athenians, having received from the Phocians the like privilege, had their name too cut upon the same wolf of brass on his right side. [3].

Copyright 2011 | All Rights Reserved