Geometric Greece: 900-700 BC

By J. N. Coldstream | Go to book overview

6

Corinth and West Greece

Corinth, at the beginning of this period, had already grown to the size of a major city; and by 700 B.C. she had become the foremost commercial power in Greece. Her fine-walled painted pottery, outstanding for its technical skill, was then being exported overseas to all the chief centres of the Greek homeland, and had begun to influence many other local Geometric styles. A few Corinthian pots were reaching the Levantine shores; but a far greater quantity was being shipped to the new Greek colonies in southern Italy and eastern Sicily, while some were purchased by Phoenician colonists as far afield as Carthage, western Sicily, and the Mediterranean coast of Spain.

It is clear, then, that Corinth already had a special interest in westward trade. With her part in the colonial movement we shall deal in due course (pp. 234-7, 242-3); the later sections of this chapter will be concerned with several regions overlooking the Corinthian Gulf, or the western seaboard of the Greek homeland, where the links with Corinth seem to have been exceptionally strong. In some areas-e.g., Achaea, Elis, western Messenia-the development of a local Geometric style was virtually stifled by Corinthian influence; while in Phocis, Ithaca, Corcyra, and the Epirus, Corinth became the main source of fine painted pottery. The significance of these close links with Corinth will be explored in a concluding section. For Corcyra there is secure literary evidence for the establishment of a Corinthian colony; were there perhaps any other places in these western regions where the ties with Corinth amounted to anything more than casual trade?

The success of Corinthian commerce must owe something to the high artistic and technical qualities of Corinthian artifacts, of which we must first take account. Corinthian pottery, at last free of Attic influence, is now the most accomplished fabric of its time; although lacking any great pretensions to figured drawing, its decoration is tastefully compounded of simple linear motifs, fine lines, and birds-until, from c. 720 B.C. onwards, a few bold pioneers suddenly abandoned Geometric principles altogether in favour of exotic plant ornament derived from the Near East, and outline drawing, thereby inaugurating the first phase of Corinth's Orientalizing style (Early Protocorinthian); nevertheless the great majority of fine pottery, until well into the seventh century, is still geometrically adorned, and yet still of consummate quality. In metalwork, Corinth possesses a distinctive school of human and animal bronze figurines, suitable for attachment to tripod cauldrons; our understanding of this school depends largely on exports to the sanctuaries of Delphi and Ithaca. Finally, shortly before 700 B.C., Corinthian ivory workers had begun to excel in the

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Geometric Greece: 900-700 BC
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 1
  • Preface to the Second Edition 3
  • Preface to the First Edition 4
  • Contents 5
  • Contents 8
  • Acknowledgements 9
  • Abbreviations 12
  • Introduction 17
  • I - The Passing of the Dark Ages C. 900-770 B.C. 23
  • 1 - Isolation: the Early Ninth Century 25
  • 2 - The Awakening in the Mid-Ninth Century 55
  • 3 - Consolidation: Late Ninth to Early Eighth Century 73
  • II - The Greek Renaissance C. 770-700 B.C. Regional Survey 107
  • 4 - Athens and Attica 109
  • 5 - The Argolid, Arcadia, Laconia, and Messenia 140
  • 6 - Corinth and West Greece 167
  • 7 - Euboea, Boeotia, Thessaly, and the Cyclades 191
  • 8 - Italy and Sicily: Trade and Colonies 221
  • 9 - Eastern Greece and Anatolia 246
  • 10 - Crete 271
  • III - Life in Eighth-Century Greece 293
  • 11 - The Recovery of Literacy 295
  • 12 - Towns and Villages 303
  • 13 - Sanctuaries, Gods, and Votives 317
  • 14 - Recollection of a Heroic Past 341
  • 15 - Oriental Influences 358
  • 16 - Epilogue 367
  • Supplement 371
  • Epilogue 414
  • Glossary 416
  • Bibliography and Site Index 418
  • Index 443
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