Phocis, a country of central Greece, bounded N. by the territories of the Locri Epicne-midii and the Locri Opuntii, E. by Bceotia, S. by the Corinthian gulf, and W. by Doris and Ozolian Locris. At one time it also comprehended a port on the Eubcean channel, called Daphnus. The principal city of Phocis was Delphi. The next in importance was Elatea, on the left bank of the Cephissus, commanding the road leading from the north of Greece to Bceotia and Attica. Other important cities were Cirrha, the port of Delphi, Anticyra or Anticirrha, and Abas. The surface is exceedingly mountainous. The Parnassus range extends over the greater portion of it, the southern branch of the chain called Cirphis touching the Corinthian gulf between Cirrha and Anticyra. Below this range are several fertile valleys, of which the largest was the celebrated Crissasan plain. Between Parnassus and the Locrian mountains on the north is the valley of the Cephissus, the largest river, which embraces a few fertile though narrow plains. The chief importance of Phocis is due to the fact that the oracle of Delphi was within its boundaries.
The Phocians proper, who inhabited both banks of the Cephissus, formed a confederation, which assembled at Daulis in a building called Phocicum. This confederation maintained its freedom, although frequently attacked by the Thessalians; and the latter, at the time of the invasion of Xerxes, led the Persian troops into Phocis, and destroyed 12 cities. Originally the temple of Delphi had been in their power, but they were early deprived of it by the Delphians, who held it till about 450 B. C. It now came again into the hands of the Phocians, and both Lacedaemonian and Athenian forces marched into their territory, the former to attack, and the latter to defend. They held possession of the temple until the peace of Nicias (421), having been during the preceding ten years of the Peloponnesian war firm allies of the Athenians. But by the terms of that peace the Delphians resumed their sovereignty over the temple, which remained in their hands until the sacred war. After the battle of Leuctra in 371, the Phocians came under the dominion of the Thebans, and remained in that condition until the death of Epaminondas, when they asserted their independence.
For this the Thebans persuaded the amphictyons to enforce an old edict ordering the Phocians to pay a fine for having occupied a tract of land near Cirrha belonging to the temple of Apollo at Delphi. Their refusal gave rise to the sacred war, which lasted from 357 to 346, in which the Phocians maintained themselves by despoiling the temple, and were only reduced by the strategy of Philip of Macedon. A decree was hereupon issued by the amphictyons that the towns of Phocis, numbering 22, should be destroyed with the exception of Abse, that the inhabitants should be scattered into villages, that no village should contain more than 50 dwellings, and that the inhabitants should repay to the temple the treasure they had taken, contributing each year 50 talents. The operations of the war which Philip afterward carried on against the Thebans and Athenians were principally in Phocis, and its people fought at the battle of Ohasrpnea on the side of Greek independence. - Phocis now forms with Phthiotis a nomarchy of the kingdom of Greece. (See Phthiotis).