The Greek "Sacred Wars"
From time immemorial Delphi, in mountainous Phocis, was the holiest oracle in Greece. Because Delphi was so holy a site, many offerings accumulated, donations from cities, kings, and ordinary people, both rich and poor, and the place was also the focus of a lucrative tourist trade. To protect the holy site, not to mention the enormous treasures stored there, from the dimmest ages a dozen poleis (“city-states”), from the Peloponnesus northwards into Thessaly, had formed an amphictyony, a confederation, the Delphic League, to protect this and some other holy sites.
Naturally, from time to time someone decided to try to lay hands on Delphi to secure all that loot. The result was a series of wars which revolved around the sanctity of Apollo’s sanctuary, considered by all Greeks to be especially holy ground, wars which came to be known as the "Sacred Wars."
- First Sacred War (595-586 B.C.): In 595 B.C. the people of Kirrha, a nearby polis, began robbing and abusing pilgrims to the shrine and even plowed up sacred lands. The League intervened, defeated the Kirrhans, razed their city, and established a special council to oversee the government of Delphi, which became a sort-of international territory within Phocis.
- Second Sacred War (449-448 BC): During the First Peloponnesian War (460- 445 BC), the first major confrontation between Sparta and Athens, a Spartan army gave Phocis full control over Delphi, asserting their ownership based on some lines in the Iliad, virtually holy writ among the ancient Greeks. No sooner had the Spartans left, however, when an Athenian army under the great Perikles, intervened to restore Delphi's autonomy.
- Third Sacred War (355-346 B.C.): The Phocians again occupied Delphi, looting the treasures there, leading to a complex war that ultimately even involved Macedonia, hitherto not generally considered “really” Greek. Although heavily outnumbered, the Phocians were able to use the temple treasures to finance the war, and managed to stave off defeat for ten years. Upon their defeat the Phocians were expelled from the Delphic League and replaced by Macedonia, ruled by Philip II, father of Alexander the Great.
- Fourth Sacred War (339-338 BC). Following the Third Sacred War, the Amfissians, although members of the Delphic League, began to cultivate part of the Crissaean plain, which belonged to Delphi and was dedicated to Apollo, and established a pottery factory on the old site of Kirrha, matters that did not stir much international attention. But in 339 BC the Athenians offered some golden shields to the Temple of Apollo at Delphi with inscriptions insulting to the Thebans. Amfissia was allied to the Thebans, and their representative to the Delphic League objected to the donation. At that, the Athenian representative indicted the Amfissians for their illegal seizure of sacred lands before the entire Delphic League. The League asked Philip II of Macedon to intervene, and the following year he captured Amfissia, expelled its people, and donated its lands to Delphi.
Philip's success, and ruthlessness, set off alarms about growing Macedonian power. Led by Demosthenes, the Athenians forged an alliance with the Thebans, Locrians, and others, including the exiled Amfissians, and declared war on Macedonia. On August 2, 338 BC, Philip utterly crushed the alliance in the Battle of Chaironea, in which his young son played a major role, effectively ending the independence of the Greeks.
Warlords' Preferred Potables
The principal national leaders running World War II all had rather distinctive tastes in alcohol.
- Chaing Kai-shek. Unlike most Chinese, the Generalissimo was a teetotaler, and also did not smoke.
- Winston S. Churchill. The British prime minister was a major toper, and he held his liquor very well. Churchill's daily intake regularly included scotch (preferably Johnny Walker Black or Red), brandy (Hine), port, and claret, not to mention champagne (Pol Rogers or Cordon Rouge), of which he claimed to average about a bottle a day. William Manchester claimed there was “always some alcohol in his bloodstream, and it reaches its peak late in the evening after he has had two or three Scotches, several glasses of Champagne, at least two brandies, and a highball.”
- Hirohito. Much preferred whiskey over the more traditional sake.
- Adolph Hitler. Generally a teetotaler, the German Führer did occasionally take a little brandy in warm milk to help him sleep. From time to time he is reported to have sampled beer, though never found one that suited his taste. On celebratory occasions Hitler was sometimes seen with a glass of Moet & Chandon champagne, such as on hearing the news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor or upon marrying Eva Braun
- Benito Mussolini. Il Duce rarely drank more than an occasional glass of wine, and like Hitler he did not smoke.
- Franklin D. Roosevelt. Roosevelt often had wine or beer with meals, but his preferred potable was a martini. He considered himself an excellent mixicologist – and made the first legal drinks served the White House on the abolition of Prohibition in 1933 – but his concoctions were reportedly only passable.
- Josef Stalin. The Soviet Vozd often drank Georgian red wine or vodka with red pepper, sometimes to excess.
- Harry S Truman. In keeping with his Missouri roots, Truman liked bourbon, and greatly preferred Wild Turkey, hardly top shelf stuff.