Second Sacred War

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

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

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]