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Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities


   A country in northern Greece, bounded on the north by the Locri Epicnemidii and Opuntii, on the east by Boeotia, on the west by the Locri Ozolae and Doris, and on the south by the Corinthian Gulf. At one time it possessed a narrow strip of country on the Euboean Sea, with the seaport Daphnus, between the territory of the Locri Epicnemidii and Locri Opuntii. It was a mountainous and unproductive country, and owes its chief importance in history to the fact of its possessing the Delphic oracle. Its chief mountain was Parnassus, situated in the interior of the country, to which, however, Cnemis, on its northern frontier, Cirphis, south of Delphi, and Helicon, on the southeastern frontier, all belonged. The principal river in Phocis was the Cephisus, the valley of which contained almost the only fertile land in the country, with the exception of the celebrated Crissaean Plain in the southwest, on the borders of the Locri Ozolae. Among the earliest inhabitants of Phocis we find mentioned Leleges, Thracians, Abantes, and Hyantes. Subsequently, but still in the ante-historical period, the Phlegyae, an Achaean race, a branch of the Minyae at Orchomenos, took possession of the country; and from this time the main bulk of the population continued to be Achaean, although there were Dorian settlements at Delphi and Bulis. The Phocians are said to have derived their name from an eponymous ancestor Phocus, and they are mentioned under this name in the Iliad.
   The Phocians played no conspicuous part in Greek history till the time of Philip of Macedon; but at this period they became involved in a war, called the Phocian or Sacred War, in which the principal states of Greece took part. The Thebans had long been inveterate enemies of the Phocians; and as the latter people had cultivated a portion of the Crissaean Plain, which the Amphictyons had declared in B.C. 585 should lie waste forever, the Thebans availed themselves of this pretext to persuade the Amphictyons to impose a fine upon the Phocians, and upon their refusal to pay it, the Thebans further induced the council to declare the Phocian land forfeited to the god of Delphi. Thus threatened by the Amphictyonic Council, backed by the whole power of Thebes, the Phocians were persuaded by Philomelus, one of their citizens, to seize Delphi, and to make use of the treasures of the temple for the purpose of carrying on the war. They obtained possession of the temple in B.C. 357. The war which ensued lasted ten years, and was carried on with various success on each side. The Phocians were commanded first by Philomelus, B.C. 357-353, afterward by his brother Onomarchus, 353-352, then by Phayllus, the brother of the two preceding, 352-351, and finally by Phalaecus, the son of Onomarchus, 351-346. The Phocians received some support from Athens, but their chief dependence was upon their mercenary troops, which the treasures of the Delphic temple enabled them to hire. The Amphictyons and the Thebans, finding at length that they were unable with their own resources to subdue the Phocians, called in the assistance of Philip of Macedon, who brought the war to a close in 346. The conquerors inflicted the most signal punishment upon the Phocians, who were regarded as guilty of sacrilege. All their towns were razed to the ground with the exception of Abae, and the inhabitants distributed in villages containing no more than fifty inhabitants. The two votes which they had in the Amphictyonic Council were taken away and given to Philip.

This text is cited Sep 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks



  Region of central Greece north of the Gulf of Corinth, around Mount Parnassus.
  Phocis was the district in which the most famous sanctuary of Delphi was located, a source of wealth which led the Phocidians to several wars with nearby Thessalia. Phocis owed its name to the mythological hero Phocus, son of Ornytus, himself a son of Sisyphus, king of Corinth. Ornytus earned himself a kingdom in a war with the Locrians but left it to his son Phocus before returning to Corinth with his second son Thoas. Phocus later healed and married Antiope, the mother by Zeus of Amphion and Zethus, the Theban heroes, after she had been struk with madness by Dionysus in punishment for the murder of Dirce and was wandering all through Greece.
  There exists another version of Phocus' story, in which he was said to be the son of Aeacus, king of Salamis, and of the Nereid Psamathe who, to try and escape Aeacus' attentions, had, to no avail, taken the form of a seal (whose name in Greek is phocos, the Greek form of the name Phocus, which explains the name of his son). Thus, Phocus was the half-brother of Telamon and Peleus (king of Phthia and father of Achilles). After growing up in Salamis at the court of his father, Phocus left the island and conquered the region of central Greece which took his name. He married Asteria, a daughter of Diomede, herself a sister of Ion and Achaeus and a daughter of Xouthus, a son of Deucalion. They had twins, Crisus and Panopeus, who gave their names to two cities of Phocis, Crisa and Panopeus. Later, Phocus tried to return to Salamis, but there, he was killed by his half-brothers Telamon and Peleus. To avenge him, his mother Psamathe sent a monstruous wolf in the region of Thessalia where Peleus had seeked refuge, which started destroying Peleus' herds, until his wife Thetis, another Nereid, and thus one of Psamethe's sisters, convinced her to turn the monster into stone.
  Panopeus had a son named Epeius but, because he had perjured himself when taking part with Amphitryon in his expedition against Taphians, pledging that he wouldn't steal anything from the spoils but failing to hold to his word, he was punished through his son, who turned out a bad warrior. Epeius took part in the Trojan War. He had also scupted there a wondrous statue of Hermes, which, taken away by a flood of the Scamandrus, had found its way to the Thracian city of Ainos. Though the statue was made of wood, the fishermen who dragged it in their nets and hoped to use it as heating fuel couldn't cut it with an ax and it wouldn't burn when put in a fire. And when they threw it back to the sea, it came back in their nets, so that they finally understood that it was the statue of a god and built a temple to host it.

Bernard Suzanne (page last updated 1998), ed.
This text is cited July 2003 from the Plato and his dialogues URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks.

Greek & Roman Geography (ed. William Smith)


  Phocis (he Phokis: Eth. Phokeus, Phocensis), a small country in central Greece, bounded on the N. by Doris, on the NE. and E. by the Locri Epicnemidii and Opuntii, on the SE. by Boeotia, on the W. by the Ozolian Locrians, and on the S. by the Corinthian gulf. The Phocians at one period of their history possessed a sea-port, Daphnus, on the Euboean sea, intervening between the Locri Epicnemidii and Opuntii (Strab. x. pp. 424, 425.) Phocis is a mountainous country. The greater part of it is occupied by the lofty and rugged range of Parnassus, the lower portion of which, named Cirphis, descends to the Corinthian gulf between Cirrha and Anticyra: below Cirphis was the fertile valley of Crissa, extending to the Corinthian gulf. On the NE. and E. were the Locrian mountains, lofty and difficult of access on the side of the Epicnemidii, but less precipitous on the side of the Opuntii. Between Mount Parnassus and the Locrian mountains flowed the river Cephissus, which empties itself into the lake Copais in Boeotia. In the valley of the Cephissus are some narrow but fertile plains. The only other rivers in Phocis, besides the Cephissus and its tributaries, are the Pleistus, flowing by Delphi, and the He. racleius, flowing into the Corinthian gulf near Bulis.
  Phocis is said to have been originally inhabited by several of those tribes who formed the population of Greece before the appearance of the Hellenes. Among the earliest inhabitants we find mention of Leleges (Dicaearch. p. 5), Thracians (Strab. ix. p. 401; Thuc. ii. 29; comp. Paus. i. 41. § 8), and Hyantes. (Strab. l. c.) The aboriginal inhabitants were conquered by the Phlegyae from Orchomenus. (Paus. viii. 4. § 4, x. 4. § 1.) The country around Tithorea and Delphi is said to have been first called Phocis from Phocus, a son of Ornytion, and grandson of Sisyphus of Corinth; and the name is said to have been afterwards extended to the whole country from Phocus, a son of Aeacus, who arrived there not long afterwards. (Paus. ii. 29. § 3, x. 1. § 1.) This statement would seem to show that the Phocians were believed to be a mixed Aeolic and Achaean race, as Sisyphus was one of the Aeolic heroes, and Aeacus one of the Achaean. In the Trojan War the inhabitants appear under the name of Phocians, and were led against Troy by Schedius and Epistrophus, the sons of Iphitus. (Hom. Il. ii. 517.)
  Phocis owes its chief importance in history to the celebrated oracle at Delphi, which originally belonged to the Phocians. But after the Dorians had obtained possession of the temple, they disowned their connection with the Phocians ; and in historical times a violent antipathy existed between the Phocians and Delphians.
  The Phocians proper dwelt chiefly in small towns situated upon either side of the Cephissus. They formed an ancient confederation, which assembled in a building named Phocicum, near Daulis. (Paus. x. 5. § 1.) They maintained their independence against the Thessalians, who made several attempts to subdue them before the Persian War, and upon one occasion they inflicted a severe loss upon the Thessalians near Hyampolis. (Herod. viii. 27, seq.; Paus. x. 1.) When Xerxes invaded Greece, the Thessalians were able to wreak their vengeance upon their ancient enemies. They conducted the Persian army into Phocis, and twelve of the Phocian cities were destroyed by the invaders. The inhabitants had previously escaped to the summits of Parnassus or across the mountains into the territory of the Locri Ozolae. (Herod. viii. 32, seq.) Some of the Phocians were subsequently compelled to serve in the army of Mardonius, but those who had taken refuge on Mt. Parnassus sallied from their fastnesses and annoyed the Persian army. (Herod. ix. 17, 31; Paus. x. 1. § 11.)
  It has been already remarked that the oracle at Delphi originally belonged to the Phocians. The latter, though dispossessed by the Delphians, had never relinquished their claims to it. In B.C. 450 the oracle was again in their possession; the Lacedaemonians sent an army to deprive them of it and restore it to the Delphians; but upon the retreat of their forces, the Athenians marched into Phocis, and handed over the temple to the Phocians. (Thuc. i. 112.) In the Peloponnesian War the Phocians were zealous allies of the Athenians. (Comp. Thuc. iii. 95.) In the treaty of Nicias (B.C. 421), however, it was expressly stipulated that the Delphians should be independent of the Phocians (Thuc. v. 18); and from this time the temple continued in the undisputed possession of the Delphians till the Sacred War. After the battle of Leuctra (B.C. 371), the Phocians became subject to the Thebans. (Xen. Hell. vi. 5 § 23.) After the death of Epaminondas they deserted the Theban alliance; and the Thebans, in revenge, induced the Amphictyonic Council to sentence the Phocians to pay a heavy fine on the pretext of their having cultivated the Cirrhaean plain, B.C. 357. Upon their refusal to pay this fine, the Amphictyonic Council consecrated the Phocian territory to Apollo, as Cirrha had been treated two centuries before. Thereupon the Phocians prepared for resistance, and were persuaded by Philomelus, one of their chief citizens, to seize the temple at Delphi, and appropriate its treasures to their own defence. Hence arose the celebrated Sacred or Phocian War, which is narrated in all histories of Greece. When the war was at length brought to a conclusion by the aid of Philip, the Amphictyonic Council wreaked its vengeance upon the wretched Phocians. It was decreed that all the towns of Phocis, twenty-two in number, with the exception of Abae, should be destroyed, and the inhabitants scattered into villages, containing not more than fifty houses each ; and that they should replace by yearly instalments of fifty talents the treasures they had taken from the temple. The two votes, which they had had in the Amphictyonic Council, were taken away from them and given to Philip. (Diod. xvi. 60; Paus. x. 3; Dem. de Fals. Leg. p. 385.) The Phocians subsequently rebuilt several of their cities with the assistance of the Athenians and their old enemies the Thebans, who had joined the Athenians in their opposition to Philip. The Phocians fought on the side of Grecian independence at the battle of Chaeroneia and in the Lamiac war; and at a later period they resisted the Gauls, when they attempted to plunder the temple at Delphi. (Paus. x. 3. § 3.)
  The chief town in Phocis, excepting Delphi was Elateia situated upon the left bank of the Cephissus, on the highroad from Locris to Boeotia, in the natural march of an army from Thermopylae into central Greece. Next in importance was Abae, also to the left of the Cephissus, upon the Boeotian frontier, celebrated for its ancient oracle of Apollo. The other towns of Phocis may be enumerated in the following order. Left of the Cephissus from N. to S. Drymaea, Erochus, Tithronium, Tritaea, Hyampolis. Right of the Cephissus, and between this river and Mount Parnassus, Lilaea, Charadra, Amphicaea, Ledon, Neon, which was supplanted by Tithorea, Parapotamii. Between Parnassus and the Boeotian frontier, Daulis, Panopeus, Trachis. On Mount Parnassus, Lycoreia, Delphi, Crissa, Anemoreia, Cyparissus. West of Parnassus, and in the neighbourhood of the Corinthian gulf from N. to S., Cirrha the port-town of Crissa and Delphi, Cirrhis, Medeon, Echedameia, Anticyra, Ambrysus, Marathus, Stiris, Phlygonium, Bulis with its port Mychus (Dodwell, Classical Tour, vol. i. p. 155, seq.; Leake, Northern Greece, vol. ii. p. 69, seq.)

This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited October 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

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