. 3
( 8)


Kypselos ruled Korinth mildly, maintaining no bodyguard and enjoying the
good will of the Korinthians.
Little can be said with any certainty regarding possible constitutional changes
made by the tyranny. I have already quoted Diodoros who writes of 200 Bakchiadai,
perhaps ruling in council (Salmon 1984: 56). Nikolaos has a council of eighty after
the tyranny (Will 1955: 609-15) and assumes eight tribes, attributed to times before
the tyranny by Roebuck (1972: 115-16; see also Schaeffer 1957: 1,222). Salmon
finds arguments to locate the major constitutional restructuring in the times of the
tyranny: tyranny was mainly a reaction against the aristocratic past, he claims, and it
was during the tyranny that the need for new arrangements was greatest (Salmon
1984: 206-7).
The coup in Korinth seems to have been as much to do with opposition to the
Bakchiad oligarchy, as with support for a charismatic leader. For Nikolaos (FGH 90
F 57.4), the Bakchiadai were generally 'insolent (hubristai) and violent (biaioi)',
ignoring the demos. Strabo (378) describes them as tyrants themselves. The mur-
dered basileus Patrokleides was 'lawless (paranomos) and oppressive (epachthes)'
(Nikolaos). Herodotos relates the oracle which mentions in particular the exclusivity
of the rulers (they monopolised power like monarchs), and that an application of dike
was required, administration of justice and perhaps punishment (see also below on
dike and the discourse of tyranny). Aristotle (Politics 1265b) records an early lawgiver
in Korinth (presumably before the tyranny), Pheidon, who was concerned with the
regulation of land tenure and citizenship. Whatever the details, the occurrence of a
legislator implies a problem to do with land and property rights which needed
resolution. Salmon, however, doubts (1984: 63-5, 194) that this led to discontent
which was exploited by Kypselos. Andrewes (1956: 44-5) has discontent with the
foreign policy of the Bakchiadai as a contributory factor. Salmon mentions also
population pressure, which he, and others, consider as lying behind the foundation
Craft production in the early city state 55

of the western colonies: 'The Korinthia may have been suffering from population
pressure once more; if the Bakchiadai were unwilling to found further colonies that
may have been a serious complaint' {Salmon 1984: 194). But Salmon sides with
Forrest's analysis (Forrest 1966: Chapter 4) that, in the absence of formulated
political discourse and organisation, the revolution and tyranny were to do with an
accumulation of particular grievances centring on the arbitrary rule and application
of power by the Bakchiadai.
It is not necessary for me to enter further the discussion surrounding the fragmen-
tary written sources which recount the revolution and tyranny (on which: Andrewes
1956, Chapter 4; Berve 1967: 14-19,521-5; Drews 1972; Forrest 1966: Chapter 4;
Jeffery 1976: Chapter 10; Mosse 1969: Chapter 3.2; Murray 1993: Chapter 9; Oost
1972; Pleket 1969; Salmon 1984: Chapters 3, 15; Will 1955: Chapters 4, 5, 6).
There are severe problems of anachronism or assimilation to contemporary under-
standing and practice: all accounts are centuries after the event: see for example
Salmon's discussion (1984: 189-90) of Nikolaos and Aristotle and their view of the
support for Kypselos - anachronistic in locating it within a 'democratic' power base,
opposed to the oligarchic Bakchiadai. There are problems too of historical discrimi-
nation: Murray (1993: 147-50) makes a good case for the accounts of Herodotos
and Nikolaos being more to do with mythography than history (see also pp. 59-61 on
the discourse of tyranny). I also note that some accounts of modern ancient histor-
ians seem unsophisticated or anachronistic in their conceptions of the political
motors of seventh-century history. For Andrewes (1956:49), tyranny was simply the
result of hatred of the aristocratic Bakchiadai, and his attempts to assess the condi-
tions of social change are very limited. For Jeffery (1976: 146-7), tyranny was the
result of the failure of the policies, home, foreign and economic, of the Bakchiad
'government'. I contrast the account of Forrest (1966) which embeds the political
changes of the tyrannies in processes of social and conceptual modernisation and
So there are considerable problems with writing a political history of early Korinth
which relies on written sources, 'sources' which anyway come long after the events
themselves. The more sophisticated ancient histories raise vital questions of the
social and political stresses which may have resulted in the things we read; but these
so often remain questions and speculation. Critique is essential. I have, however, no
need to stress the details of any particular account, details so hazy and uncertain. On
the basis of conventional ancient historical discussion it is surely reasonable to make
the following summary, but general, points.

An oligarchy was replaced by the rule of a tyrant in the middle of the seventh
Major constitutional differences (other than hereditary succession to kingship)
between an earlier monarchy and the oligarchy of the Bakchiadai are difficult to
The Bakchiadai were defined, the oligarchy established through descent.
They may have had an interest in trade and exchange.
Art and the Greek City State 56

Opposition to the oligarchy seems to have centred upon their arbitrary and
exclusive power, and perhaps property rights and land.
Kypselos may have been related by birth to the Bakchiadai.
Kypselos was on the fringes of the oligarchy and may have held (military) office.
Kypselos drew on popular support.
Major constitutional changes made by the tyranny are difficult to establish.
There are no references to anything other than a narrow oligarchic council, and
attendant magistracies, with power in Korinth.
The tyrants' court was a centre of patronage of religion and the arts and crafts:
statuary, architecture, painting, poetry.
Eastern connections are apparent.
What was the significance of the tyranny? For Salmon (1984: 205), 'the structure
of government was shattered by Kypselos' revolution' (also Andrewes 1956: 48-9),
Revolution is a word not infrequently used to describe the coup of Kypselos (An-
drewes 1956; Forrest 1966; Salmon 1984, for example). Indeed, it would seem that
the monopoly of power of the Bakchiadai was broken. But the change was not a shift
from narrow and aristocratic rule to a popular power of the people or demos, though
Herodotos (3.82), Aristotle (Politics 1310b), Plato (Republic 8.565c-d), and Nikolaos
(already noted), have tyrants beginning their careers as champions of the demos. I
stress again that Korinth was never ruled by anything other than an oligarchy or
tyrant who emerged from the aristocratic oligarchy. Andrewes (1956: 24,48) goes as
far as suggesting that Kypselos may have regarded himself as a new heir to the old
monarchy (also Oost 1972: 21-8). However, an aristocracy or oligarchy may define
itself in various ways, and this point has been central in discussions of the social and
political conflicts of the seventh century and after in Greece. The questions concern
the character and composition of the social groups in conflict, and the reasons for
their conflict, which in Korinth produced tyranny.
I will deal with the social and cultural character of aristocracy in a later section, but
let me preface that discussion with some points from ancient histories of the Korin-
thian Bakchiadai. The definition of the Bakchiad aristocracy through birth and
descent has been noted. The resultant exclusivity may have been resented by other
families, or by wealthy, and therefore influential, outsiders, with less claim to noble
descent (though this can easily be asserted). A possible conflict is between ascribed
and achieved status and power. This conflict between birth and wealth, between the
leisure of an aristocracy and trades and crafts, between landed and commercial
wealth, is a recurrent and important theme of early poetry. It is markedly present in
the work of Solon, Alkaios, and particularly Theognis. In a well-noted comment,
Thukydides points to an economic factor at play in the emergence of tyrannies:
Craft production in the early city state 57

Figure 2.3 Hoplites upon a Korinthian aryballos, found at Gela and now in Syracuse Museum.

Ure made much of the economic factor, arguing a change in forms of economic
capital and the emergence of commercial wealth exploited by tyrants, all 'first class
business men' (Ure 1922: 30).
The emergence of discontented wealth is also often associated by historians with a
military factor: the social changes of the seventh century have been related to hoplitai,
the (new?) heavy armed infantry of the polis. Salmon (1977, 1984: 191-3) has
argued that the strength behind the upheavals was provided by hoplites, and Kyp-
selos was successful because he enjoyed their support. As Murray puts it:
When therefore Aristotle says that 'in the old days, tyrannies arose when the
same man was popular leader and general' (Politics 1305a), the natural
inference is that the tyrants should be seen as the leaders of the hoplite class
against the aristocracy: their success in overthrowing the traditional state
would then lie in their being able to call on a new group of supporters, more
powerful than the band of warriors which the aristocracy could muster - the
hoplite class as a whole, that is the people (demos) under arms.
(Murray 1993: 142)
Nikolaos does claim that Kypselos was polemarch, and some military functions may
be surmised, though he does not mention any. However, evidence for the military
factor is largely circumstantial and dependent upon extrapolation from Aristotle's
analysis (Politics 1297b) of the connection between the military and the state, as I
discussed above. The older extrapolation from the few fragmentary details known of
Pheidon of Argos, a monarch who went beyond custom and became a tyrant,
perhaps through his military success (Andrewes 1956: 39-42) cannot easily be
supported (Kelly 1976: Chapter 7).
Kypselos must have had support, obviously from outside the Bakchiadai, and a
class analysis appears attractive: the 'class' interests of hoplites, a group enriched by
commercial wealth, or of the demos may have led them to back Kypselos. However I
Art and the Greek City State 58

repeat the point that Korinthians never had anything other than a small oligarchic
council. There were demands then for removal of the exclusive Bakchiadai who
thought themselves monarchs {mounarchontes, Herodotos, quoted above), but the
demands for power cannot have come from anything but a minority of Korinthians,
otherwise there would not have been satisfaction with the narrow constitution
centred upon a council of only eighty (satisfaction attested by political stability; see
also Pindar Olympian 13.6-8 on Korinthian eunomia, settled good order, quoted also
below). Forrest explains with excellent clarity:
We must always ask how far down through society the desire for political
power had spread. At this date the answer is likely to be that it had not spread
very far. Indeed, in class terms, it seems probable that it had not spread at all
- the politically active in 650 were still the same kind of men as the basileis of
750; they may have been more numerous than the basileis; they may have
stood for a different immediate policy for their state; they may have had
different friends; they may have had different interests; but neither policy,
friends nor interests were necessarily, in the case of Korinth even probably, of
a fundamentally different kind. (Forrest 1966: 121)
Salmon (1984; 191-2, 1977: 99) also makes the point that the Korinthian consti-
tution was never wide enough to satisfy the political demands of a hoplite phalanx.
Tyranny at Korinth was not the emergence into politics of a hoplite 'class' {contra
Murray 1993: 141f)- Snodgrass remarks generally (1980a: 112) that tyranny only
involved the aristocracy, Both Snodgrass (1965) and Cartledge (1977) hold that the
hoplite reform was not an immediate threat to aristocratic interests.
The essential point is to separate 'class' or sectional interests and discontent from
political power. A long digression on class and the ancient city state is not necessary,
particularly given De Ste Croix's monumental elaboration (1981) of Marxian and
Aristotelian analysis of the Greek city state. I am satisfied to accept basic divisions
between euporoi or a propertied class (sometimes, as in early poetry, called the agathoi
and synonyms), those without property, the aporoi (or kakoi, later called the demos),
and dependent labour or slaves, Morris (1987) has used this class distinction in
archaeology with analytical success. The existence of a commercially enriched class
has been supposed, but arguments over its existence and importance are less import-
ant than the ultimate value accorded to landed wealth and to aristocratic values and
life-style. To these I will return.
It is important here to signal the need to treat critically the terms applied to the
archaic Greek class system. There is an argument to be made for careful qualifica-
tion, providing historical context for the concept of aristocracy itself. It is not, of
course, an historical or sociological constant. As with the concept of king, aristocracy
finds one set of origins in definitions of medieval absolutist monarchy, with mono-
theistic religion providing legitimation for feudal hierarchy. Michael Mann's fine and
synoptic account of the history of social power treats this phenomenon as an
ideological invention of medieval Europe; this could be taken to place dark age and
archaic Greece beyond comparison (Mann 1986: 245). Without state bureaucracies
Craft production in the early city state 59

and the religious ideologies, archaic Greek aristocracy was more fluid, perhaps better
described by ethnological terminologies 'chieftains' or 'big-men' (Starr 1986; Whit-
ley 1991; further discussion below). Other appropriate comparisons are with ger-
manic society (Hedeagger 1988). I retain the term to mark its distinctive genealogy,
while promoting such arguments for awareness of historical difference.
The significance of tyranny at Korinth in these ancient histories was simply that it
removed the principle of hereditary aristocratic dominance; but the exercise of power
did not shift from the propertied class. Whether hoplites were involved or not,
whether Kypselos enlisted the support of the demos or aporoi, the tyranny depended
upon conflicts within the propertied class. This argument implies continuity as well
as something of a radical break in the mid-seventh century, and it is to continuities of
different kinds that I will turn later.

Tyranny, power and discourses of sovereignty

this city.. .
men never sacked it, but you
took it now with your spear and together great glory is yours.
Rule over it and hold tyranny.
Archilochos West 23.18-20
In this iambic fragment Archilochos draws on notions of autocratic power to
construct metaphors for amorous attachment - all-conquering femininity. Elsewhere
(Archilochos West 19) the tyranny of Gyges is used as a metaphor for greed, which
he, mercenary and poet, does not share. For Archilochos and his generation the
power of tyranny was a recent political innovation, source of poetic idiom. McGlew
(1993) has provided a most valuable account of its discourse.
McGlew questions the bifurcation found in ancient histories of tyranny (as out-
lined above) into a reality of determinations (such as individual political motivations,
economic, social and class-based pressures) and ideology, a supposed reality of
political change, separated from its representation in 'propaganda', legend and
folklore - the majority of the sources. McGlew's position on the politics of tyranny is
that 'a process of complicity, not simple ambition, transformed one citizen into a
ruler and his fellows into his subjects' (McGlew 1993: 5). This is based on the
premise, following Foucault (as, for example expressed in Foucault 1980; for archae-
ology Miller and Tilley 1984), that power is less acquired, being some sort of
commodity, than exercised, being a function of social relationships. With power
centred upon translation of interests effected through discourse, the sources (such as
Delphic oracles, poetry directed against tyrants and the fable that grew up around
them) are not to be decoded to reveal the 'truth' of social and economic causation,
the political reality of the seventh and sixth centuries, but read as part of the
Art and the Greek City State 60

relationships between political agencies of archaic Greece, the tyrant and his sub-
In this remythologised history the tyrant appears as the progenitor of a political
vocabulary of sovereignty.
Consider again the Delphic oracles reported by Herodotos to have been associated
with the rise of Kypselos. In them the tyrant's persona is an agent of justice.

an eagle is pregnant in the rocks and will
bring forth a lion, a mighty hunter of flesh,
who will weaken the knees of many.
Be warned of this, you Korinthians who live
around the fair Peirene and the heights of Akrokorinthos.
Herodotos 5.92
For the oracles, tyranny arises from injustice, and this belongs with the city and its
leaders, not with the motivations and ambitions of the tyrant. So the oracle quoted
here reminds the Korinthians of the coming of tyrant Kypselos, whose rule is likened
to a lion exacting punishment on (unjust) Korinthians. The tyrant's persona as a
reformer required a conspicuous display of freedom (eleutheria), hence the lion.
McGlew notes (1993: 67 n. 32) many instances of this use of the lion as a political
symbol, fearful and irresistible, sometimes image of divinely willed destruction.

In Theognis and Solon too, there is a reciprocity between crime and punishment.
And Kypselos killed Patrokleides, the last Bakchiad king (Nikolaos). There is rel-
evant imagery found also in the discourse of the new state (McGlew 1993: 60 and n,
18). The aim of dike, justice, is associated with (political) leadership and solidarity,
visualised as the ship of state in calm or stormy waters (Archilochos West 105;
Alkaios West 6, 208, 249) steered by the just rudder (dikaion pedalion) (Pindar
Pythian 1.86-7).
By claiming and being supported in an unprecedented and unique right to autoc-
racy, the tyrant implicitly defined that rule as untransferable. This is the basis of
resistance to tyranny. McGlew argues that there was a clear complicity between
tyrant and subjects in recognising the coherence of the argument for tyranny - the
tyrant was a popular leader. The corollary is that resistance aimed not to overthrow
tyranny so much as to appropriate the eleutheria of the tyrant for the people. Just as
the tyrant's divinely willed eleutheria involved the subjection of fellow citizens, so the
Craft production in the early city state

appropriation of that same freedom by the citizenry involved subjugation of slaves.
After tyranny there was no return to political innocence. The persona of agent of dike
was adopted, the treasury and foreign interests assumed, eleutheria preserved - those
aspects of sovereignty which made the tyrant lord both attractive and dangerous.
McGlew maintains that there was no convincing precedent for the extraordinary
power exercised by the early tyrants, no political framework in which it may be
located. Instead, and in its rhetoric and reception, tyranny emerged through the
manipulation of contemporary conceptions of dike (which functioned in the earliest
accounts of the polis as the most pressing concern of civic action). Hence the
discourse of tyranny is pervaded by notions of hubris (divine necessity) and dike
(justice.), Hesiod's divinity punishing those bribe-devouring basileis, big-men (lit-
erally kings), practising adikia (injustices), selling their judgement to the highest
bidder (Works and Days 36-9).
In this context of the forging of new political discourses, it is not surprising that the
discourse of tyranny is clearly related to that of other figures of archaic Greek politics
- the founder, lawgiver (Pheidon here at Korinth), and liberator or tyrannicide. All
reference the two sides of justice and sovereignty. For example, accounts of the
colonial founder, the wandering oikistes, have a similar narrative structure to that of
tyranny. The oikistes escapes the stain of domestic crime or illegitimacy by leaving the
mother city and travelling to the ends of the earth to assume tyrant-Ike powers in
founding a new city. Myth, cult and fable around his achievements turn his death
into the city's coming of age, his individual rule into a single remote and unrepeatable
event. In recalling the founder in celebration and legend, the citizenry of the polis
celebrated their autonomy from him and their possession of the sovereignty, now
collective, that their founders held.

Korinth, the material environment: a continuity of change
Public architecture: masonry and roof tiles
By the middle of the sixth century, there was a monumental stone temple upon
Temple Hill at Korinth, and another dedicated to Olympian Zeus, a project initiated
by the tyrant Periandros. The construction of such public and religious buildings
began in the early eighth century with the small temple dedicated to Hera Akraia at
Perachora, just across the Korinthian Gulf from Korinth. By the seventh century this
was perhaps replaced with another temple, and what may have been a cult dining-
room was added (Salmon 1972:161-5, 174-8; Tomlinson 1977: 197-202). Among
other dedications found in the sanctuary, there are pieces of perhaps five models of
temples - small porched buildings, with geometric decoration and thatched roof
(Payne 1940: Pl. 9). We should note here with Snodgrass (1980a: 61-2) the early
connection in temple and cult between the sacred buildings which resembled houses,
and communal dining or feasting (further discussion in Chapter Five).
Williams (1986 esp. 12-14) proposes an early date for knowledge of Astarte, an
eastern Aphrodite, infamous at Korinth in later times. He cites, as evidence for an
early cult, a seventh-century figurine from Korinth (Davidson 1952: 29, Pl. 6, No.
85) and a plaque from Perachora (Payne 1940: 231-2, Pl. 102, No. 183). The plaque
Art and the Greek City State

Figure 2.4 Bellerophon. An aryballos in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (95.10).

shows what Payne claimed to be a bisexual Aphrodite; on the reverse is a painted
Pegasos and a dog or lion.
The date is debated, but between 700 and 650 or shortly aftermuch larger temples
were built at Korinth itself, to Apollo (dedication debated by Fowler and Stillwell
1932: 115-16, 130-3; Morgan 1994: 138-9), and at the sanctuary of Poseidon at
Isthmia (Broneer 1971; Robinson 1976; the terminus post quern is 690-650 BC, after
Gebhard and Hemans 1992: 39).
These were ostentatious and innovatory designs, drawing on new specialised
building construction skills. At Korinth the temple had squared masonry up to roof
height (Robinson 1976: 225-8). Isthmia definitely had a colonnade. Both temples
were provided with painted ceramic wall-decoration, that at Isthmia claimed to have
closest parallels in the Chigi Olpe found in Etruria (Broneer 1971: 33-4,41, Fig. 54
and Pis. 5a-c; Robinson 1976: 228-30 for Korinth). Both also had tiled roofs (for
Isthmia: Broneer 1971: 40-53; Williams 1980: 346-7). Decorative architectural
ceramics were being produced in Korinth from the middle or third quarter of the
seventh century BC (Weinberg 1954: 118f).
Craft production in the early city state

Figure 2.5 The sanctuary of Hera at Perachora, across the gulf from Korinth (the remains of the archaic
temple are at the end of the terrace).
Art and the Greek City State

Figure 2.6 Temple Hill, Old Korinth (this is the later archaic temple); Akrokorinthos in the background.

These Korinthian roof tiles and especially the architectural ceramics, identified by
their fabric and design, were used in many other early temples (Payne 1931: Chapter
17; Robinson 1984). Korinthian influence or design has been speculated for temple
C at Thermon and for Calydon (Salmon 1984: 121).
So Korinth was an important innovator in early temple design and building
(general discussion: Cook 1970: 17-19; Salmon 1984: 120-1). Coulton (1977:
32-50) has argued for a strong Egyptian influence upon Korinthian temple building.

Building Korinth: springs and defensive walls, graves and wells
Amenities provided for Korinthians in the late eighth and seventh centuries include
the so-called Sacred and perhaps Cyclopean Springs (Hill 1964; Williams and Fisher
1971: 3-5). There are clear remains of a metal workshop from the early seventh
century (Williams and Fisher 1971: 5-10); a mould for spearheads from a nearby
well gives a clue to some of the things made there. I have already discussed pottery
specialisation: most workshops were away from the central area of habitation. The
pottery from the metal workshop house and well was plain linear Protokorinthian
(Williams and Fisher 1971: 26-30).
I have also already presented the consensus on the early appearance of the city
state as a collection of villages (Roebuck 1972; Williams 1982), although the evi-
dence (the distribution of graves and wells) is not substantial (little of old Korinth
outside the Roman centre has been excavated). Salmon (1984; 75-80) has chal-
lenged the idea that the centre of the early city state was little more than a village. He
traces expansion of the early central settlement from the distribution of graves and
wells {contra Williams), expansion due to population rise. Noting in addition the
evidence for craft specialisation and public amenities and temples, he concludes: 'our
limited evidence strongly favours the conclusion that Korinth was already, in respect
Craft production in the early dry state

of amenities, population and economic activity, a true city by the time of the tyrants'
(Salmon 1984: 80).
The early 'city' may have been provided with a defensive wall at the time of the
tyrants. The late seventh-century South Long Building in the so-called Potters'
Quarter took account of the course of a wall of substantial scale at the edge of the
neighbouring ravine. This has been interpreted as part of a defensive circuit (Salmon
1984: 220); Williams has also noted (1982: 15-17) cuttings in the bedrock for
perhaps an angle tower. A city wall which took in even just the centre, the 'Potters'
Quarter' and Akrokorinthos would have been a massive undertaking, and for this
reason it may be doubted that the wall was to guard the whole of the new city.
Stillwell (1948: 14, 62) suggests that it was only for the local quarter, Winter (1971:
64) that it was to defend just the approach to Akrokorinthos. Given only the short
stretch of wall at the 'Potters' Quarter', the question of a walled Korinth in the
seventh century must remain open, though the implications are considerable.

The living and the dead
Clear evidence for radical change in the eighth century is the shift of burials from in
and around house clusters to the north cemetery with its organised grave plots
(Blegen, Palmer and Young 1964 Part 2: 13-20). This implies also a change in
conception of living space. Morris (1987: esp, 185-6 for Korinth) has made much of
this in his thesis of class change in the early polis. From 800 BC there was an increase
in the number of grave goods deposited in graves sited among houses. By 775
extramural cemeteries were established and soon after, by 750, mortuary rite re-
quired few artifacts as offerings. There was instead a rise in votive offerings in
sanctuaries, a general trend noted also on p. 175. Morris comments: 'Korinthian
wealth was probably not waning in the eighth century, but a new symbolic system of
large, poor, homogeneous 'citizen' cemeteries had been established' (1993: 33). His
proposal is that fundamental class change, new social relationships within the polis
community and the emergence of a citizenry, was accompanied by changes in
relationships between the living and the dead, mortals and immortals, the commu-
nity and its heroes (ibid.: 35). Conceptions of time are implicated, in changed
references to the dead and those beyond mortal frame. This is the ideological field I
will be exploring particularly in the next chapter.

Pottery, metalwork, export and dedication
I will be considering the export and consumption of Korinthian pottery in detail in
later chapters, but, given the dominance of pottery in the archaeological record and
therefore in the material remains from archaic Korinth, a few remarks are appropri-
ate here.
Korinthian pottery of middle Geometric style was already finding its way to Delphi
and other places in the early eighth century (Coldstream 1968: Chapter 3; Dehl
1984). By the turn of the century in 700 BC Korinthian pottery was to be found in
many Greek and other sites, particularly cemeteries and sanctuaries. Pottery of late
Geometric 'Thapsos' style has been considered a style produced for export, because
Art and the Greek City State 66

so little has actually been found at Korinth (Coldstream 1968: 103); the identifica-
tion as Korinthian (according to fabric and style) has even been doubted because of
this lack of finds in the supposed place of production and because of claimed
decorative differences to Korinthian late Geometric and protokorinthian (see for
example the discussion by Boardman 1970: 496, 1973: 278-9; Bosana-Kourou
1983; Grimanis et al. 1980; Neeft 1981), The distribution of the stylistic variety of
Korinthian pottery (much of which is missing from Korinth) has also been taken to
indicate that the pottery was produced primarily for export (Morgan 1988: 336).
Morgan (1988: esp. 333-8) has related Korinthian manufactured goods to a need
for metal supplies to service competitive display (weaponry, sanctuary goods and
items related to aspects of aristocratic lifestyle such as the symposion). In this respect
the sanctuary at Perachora symbolised Korinthian interest in the west {ibid.: 335).
Many Korinthian pots found their way to sanctuaries. This is true also of other items
of specialised manufacture. There is a collection of ivory seals from Perachora, dating
perhaps from 700 onwards (Stubbings 1962). They are carved with figured scenes
which closely resemble those of figured Korinthian pottery (ibid.: 411). A distinctive
style of Korinthian votive metalwork has been identified, consisting of birds, horses
and human figurines, most probably designed as attachments for tripods (Bouzek
1967; Coldstream 1977:175-7;Herrmann 1964:17-71). Pins were made, found with
simple jewellery in some Korinthian graves (Coldstream 1977: 175). Some pins, too
large for ordinary use, were clearly for dedication or some other special use; such pins
for dedication are known elsewhere (Snodgrass 1980a: 62-3).
Salmon (1984: 118-19) has rightly pointed out that the number of such pieces of
metalwork is small, and that much of Korinthian metal production may well have been
for more mundane items. Nevertheless, the things which are found in the sanctuaries
of Perachora, Delphi, Aetos on Ithaka, and at Olympia are part of a general rise in the
number of dedications to divinity. Snodgrass (1980a: 52-4) has stressed this change in
practice, away from the placing of things in the grave, to items in sanctuaries, many of
which have a distinctive cosmopolitan ambience, with dedications of many local styles
and forms. Here I am anticipating discussion in Chapter Five.
At Isthmia Morgan (1994:127-8) reports the finding, among other dedications, of
eight tripods and weaponry {a Kegelhelm, Illyrian helmet and a spearhead). Remains
at Perachora indicate a sanctuary among the richest in the Greek world at the time,
but no such dedications have been found.
Among the variety of terracottas found in the Potters' Quarter (Stillwell 1952) is a
series of pieces of model carts or chariots. Raepsaet (1988) stresses the diversity of
function of such vehicles in his treatment which searches for what the models are
representing: they could be used for religious processions as well as having agricul-
tural uses. He makes no consideration of the motivation of modelling -I note that
these models may well be related to military or heroic ethos, if not function.

Warfare and the Korinthian economy
The mould for spearheads found in that early metal workshop in Korinth (Williams
and Fisher 1971: item 31} may be coincidental, but Korinth has been implicated in
Craft production in the early city state

the development of the new forms of weaponry and armour of the late eighth and
seventh centuries. Herodotos (4.180) calls Korinthian the new bronze helmet, seen
pictured upon many Korinthian pots, and it has been accepted as a Korinthian
invention (Snodgrass 1964: 20-8). Beaten from a single sheet of bronze, such
artifacts required considerable skill to produce.
The new figurative imagery upon seventh-century ceramics notably includes some
illustrations of what appear to be hoplite battles (Salmon 1977), among many more
images of warring males.
An and the Greek City State 68

blessed Korinth
doorway to Poseidon's Isthmus,
brilliant (aglaos) in its young men,
Eunomia (political order) dwells there
and her sisters, Dike (justice) -
safe footing for cities -
and Eirene (peace) - with whom she grew -
housekeeper of men's wealth,
golden daughters of wise Themis.
Pindar Olympian 13.4-8
In a most notable argument De Polignac (1984, 1994) has connected the estab-
lishment of sanctuaries to a dynamic of territorial sovereignty. Morris (1987: 189-
92) also stresses profound eighth-century changes in boundaries between gods, men
and the dead, with living space more sharply differentiated from the sacred spaces of
the gods and dead - sanctuaries and cemeteries. Mention has been made of the shift
in burial of Korinthian dead to formal designated areas. For De Polignac the rural
sanctuaries in the chora of the polis were set up as focal points of mediation; these
'passages between two worlds' (De Polignac 1994: 8) indicate the importance of

In an exploration of the archaic geographical imagination as found in Homer,
Scully (1990) finds the conceptual space of the early polis a paradoxical one.
Ephemeral polis within immortal frame, the new city represented an interplay of
human and divine components, technology and the Olympian, the oikos (household)
and the sacred space of the polis (ibid.: 61-4), Sanctuaries and shrines, so crucial to
the structuring of city space and community for De Polignac, represent a divine
presence and architectural force in a city of mortal men, though one defended by
heroes, who are between men and gods (ibid,; 106-10).
Isthmia, through Pindar's doorway, is close to communication routes, land and
sea, and lies on a dramatic narrowing of the isthmus. Akrokorinthos is clearly visible
to the west across Korinth's chora. Sited in view across the bay on its rocky promon-
tory, Perachora looks out west down the Korinthian gulf (is it true that on a clear day
one may see the Ionian islands?). To the south, off the way to Argos, is another 'rural'
sanctuary, Solygeia (Morgan 1994: 135-8; Verdelis 1962).
The sacred landscape, which is the polis, centres on frontiers, political borders
between neighbouring states, but also boundaries between the sacred and profane
(De Polignac 1984: 30), mortal and divinity, this world and that beyond. Axes are set
out in the chora from astu to sanctuary, axes enacted in the sacred calendar with
Craft production in the early city state

periodic processions and festivals {ibid.: 48-50, 54-6, 85-92). The soldier citizenry
of the polis, the newly regulated or standardised hoplitai, would have figured promi-
nently in these rites. Antonaccio (1994: 82, citing Connor 1988; 16-17) repeats the
point that archaic warfare was not about territorial acquisition but civic representa-
tion, and was often focused upon borders, disputed or liminal territory suitable for a
The sacred landscapes of the polis made use of the past with offerings at ancient
tombs and with hero cults, material cultural expressions of an heroic ethos, of a
concern for genealogical connection with land and ancestors. Were they justifica-
tions for divisions in the present? Much attention has focused recently on this aspect
of the archaic state (Antonaccio 1993a, 1993b, 1994; Coldstream 1976, 1977:
Chapter 14; Morris 1988; Snodgrass 1982, 1988; Whitley 1994a).
In all here is a nexus of landscape, cult, time, death, mediation and belonging or
Morgan (1994) emphasises the continuities of activity at Isthmia as well as
changes in the eighth century: there is evidence of offerings at an altar. Everything
did not all suddenly start with the 'birth' of the polis. Continuities are also stressed
and radical changes questioned by Sourvinou-Inwood, who nevertheless recognises
that 'crystallisation' took place in the archaic period (Sourvinou-Inwood 1993: 9,
11) and that the mediation of sacred and non-sacred became a most significant
feature of the design of the polis. She adds another aspect of cultic activity, one which
she sees as paramount: 'what was fundamental in Greek sanctuaries, what defined a
sanctuary in the Greek religious mentality, was that it was a sacred space centred
around an altar, sometimes including another sacred focus such as a tree or stone, a
spring or a cave' (ibid.: 11). The focus was the point and form of mediation between
sacred and profane - sacrifice, consumption and the scent of burning meat.

Mobility and the polis - colonies
Disputes over land seem, from Aristotle's account (Politics 1265b 12-16), to have
been the concern of archaic lawgiver Pheidon. Acquisition and partition of land was
certainly a feature of colonisation. Korinthians set up colonies at Kerkyra in 734 BC
and Syracuse in Sicily the year after. More followed. This primary feature of the early
polis-mobility-will be a main feature of discussion in Chapter Four.

Material lifeworlds
Korinth in the late eighth and seventh centuries most probably still appeared as a
collection of villages of peasant farmers. I have also noted that the production of fine
pottery would not have required a large workforce and was not in contradiction with
a fundamentally peasant economy, though specialisation and expertise were essen-
tial. The amounts of other specialised and fine products such as metal- and ivory-
work were also not great, though, like pottery, they were growing.
However, Korinthians were innovators in religious architecture and building
methods and materials, in new weaponry, and, above all for the archaeologist, in
surface design and iconography - pottery, architectural ceramics (temple wall-
Art and the Greek City State 70

panels), ivory- and metalwork (figurines). This specialised craft production was for a
cultural nexus which bound together cult, war and death. Snodgrass (1980a: Chap-
ter 2, esp. 62-4) has stressed the links in the archaic economy between metalwork
and craft, religion and war: these are all aspects of the category of the 'economic', a
category which, in fact, disperses, and cannot be held to have strong analytical
importance. I would add to this cultural assemblage external connections, whether
trade and travel, 'colonisation', export of dedications to sanctuaries and colonies,
reference to oriental and 'exotic' motifs, or the mixture of Korinthian goods in a
cosmopolitan ambience such as Perachora or Delphi. The Korinthians were su-
preme innovators in this field too, hence the claims for the long-vaunted 'economic
success' of Korinthian pottery, but this is a field which cannot {a fortiori) be restricted
to a category such as the economic.
New urban and political spaces and experiences involved figurative imagery,
public areas and processions, with focal points of mediation, viewing and consump-
tion. These ranged from the personal space of the miniature pottery, invitations to
hold and look at goods in a new way, scrutinising scenes of bodies in action upon a jar
of perfumed oil, to vistas from Perachora and Isthmia, to the sensations of citizenry
ranked in heavy hoplite armour, bronze cuirass and horse-hair crest in the Greek
summer sun. Springs were tapped in a formally designated and sacred city centre of
designed ostentation of fine masonry, roof tiles and stucco. Graves no longer were
laid between houses, but outside the city.
The mobility of goods and people finds analogy in the discourses of tyranny and
colonisation: social mobility and redefinitions, reworkings of the metaphors and
narratives of personal and collective sovereignty. 1 will turn to further reworkings in
the next chapter.

Social histories: making anthropological sense of archaic aristocracy
Tyranny was predominantly to do with the old hereditary aristocracy and the
propertied class of archaic Korinth. It involved a shift in interest and powers within
this restricted section of society, Birth and a principle of hereditary succession are
clearly implicated in the political struggles. However, the issue of kinship in the early
Greek state is a complex and difficult one. The studies of Morris (1987) and Whitley
(1987,199lb) into burial in dark age and archaic Greece make much reference to the
kinship basis of the burying groups, and they both investigated the possibilities and
issues thoroughly. However, both also remained uncommitted on the precise nature
of the social and kinship units (Morris 1987: esp. 87-93; Whitley 1991b: esp. 64-7),
and with good reason. The relationship between mortuary practices, archaeological
remains and kinship is very varied (Ucko 1969). The work of Bourriot (1976) has
demolished the old certainty concerning the primary social unit of archaic Athens
(the state about which most is known). It is no longer tenable to hold that the genos,
originally conceived as a kinship group wider than the immediate or extended family,
took any specific form. After also the work of Roussel (1976), the existence of a tribal
and clan or lineage based early Athens or Greece can only be considered a mirage
(Snodgrass 1980a: 25-6; see also Humphreys 1980).
Craft production in the early city state 71

Forrest (1966: esp. 48-50) provides a more flexible idea of pyramid-shaped units
vertically dividing a peasant-based society with no formal constitution or state. At the
head of each would have been an 'aristocrat' and his immediate oikos (see also
Donlan 1985). Beyond would be other lesser households, relatives, retainers and
slaves. The bonds were manifold: locality, kinship, ritual, as well as bonds of
patronage and mutual help. The aristocrat may have originally provided defence and
a security of wealth and resources accessible in hard times; those lower down
provided service, recognition, surplus perhaps. The aristocrat needed the status
afforded by followers; the peasant security. Gallant (1991: esp. Chapter 66) has
provided a powerful argument, empirically well-founded, for the economic import-
ance of such relationships in a peasant-based society. But the manifold nature of the
links within these groups means they go well beyond the economic: they are simulta-
neously economic, religious, political and more (aristocrats were also a legal system
of arbitration, for example).
The flexibility of these groups means they are open to manipulation and change.
The status of a group may vary according to its wealth and ability to fulfil ritual,
military and economic functions; the political and other use of the rising wealth of a
group may bring status and social dominance. There are no inherent constraints
upon manipulation and change of existing groups, but descent and tradition could
block outside oikoi from usurping position. This seems to have been the case at
Korinth with the Bakchiadai. But the tyranny of Kypselos usurped birth and tradi-
tion, I write usurped because birth and tradition were always options open for
reference and manipulation in this system, both before and after tyranny.
De Ste Croix makes an appropriate contrast (1981; 278f) between the presenta-
tions of the aristocracy in the poems of Hesiod and Theognis, a contrast of perhaps
100 years, between the eighth and seventh centuries. For Hesiod (Works and Days),
political power was the exclusive preserve of a hereditary aristocracy, still in its days
of security, though Hesiod has them as gift devouring and scorning justice (dike).
The authors of the Theognidea express aristocratic sentiments, but they are on the
defensive. Society was divided, between the good and bad, literally moral terms, the
agathoi and kakoi, aristocracy and the rest. The reason was new wealth, supplanting
birth. Hesiod (for example Works and Days 320) and Solon (for example West 13.9)
both accept that there are ways of acquiring good 'god-given' (theosdota) wealth; but
all new wealth is bad in Theognis. This was a state of affairs in which philiai (alliances
and friendships) were breaking down and changing all the time, in contrast to the
perception of old permanence. As Adkins put it: 'the writers of the Theognid corpus
for the most part feel themselves unable to exercise any effective control over the
economic, social and political development of their city' (Adkins 1972: 46-7). This
was hardly a simple 'economic' matter of wealth.
What comes between Hesiod and Theognis; what made the difference? De Ste
Croix gives the answer of the tyrants.

Institutions suited to maintaining in power even a non-hereditary ruling class
. . . did not exist. . . Even non-hereditary oligarchy, based entirely on
Art and the Greek City State 72

property ownership and not on right of birth, was something new and
untried, lacking a traditional pattern which could be utilised without
potentially dangerous experiment. Until the necessary institutions had been
devised there was no real alternative to aristocracy but the dictatorship of a
single individual and his family - partly according to the old pattern of Greek
kingship, but now with a power which was not traditional but usurped.
(De Ste Croix l981:281)
Here is reference to that renegotiation of sovereignty, already discussed. I suggest a
modification of this general point of De Ste Croix. Here is a mixture of the traditional
(monarchic power) and innovation (usurpation and new means of legitimation).
With a principle of hereditary succession threatened, other means of legitimation
were enhanced or sought; discourses were contested and redesigned. The evidence
from Korinth suggests that this substantially involved the Bakchiadai, the hereditary
aristocrats themselves.
The idea is a strong one that the organs of power centred upon the aristocratic oikoi
and their retainers (Finley 1973; passim; Murray 1993: 84p5; Redfield 1975; 111,
123-7; Runciman 1982). It is possible to accept this primacy of the household form
while also recognising, with Scully (1990: Chapter 7) the physical and conceptual
space of the polis. These oikoi were flexible social forms which combined economic,
religious, military, legal and household functions. I have also outlined a continuity of
changes from the mid eighth century; an increasing interest in public religion and
dedication; innovation and interest in the field of war; new physical and visual
environments with the development of the settlement of Korinth, the sacred city, and
the emergence of a representational iconography; travel (of goods and people); and
colonisation. The Bakchiadai were clearly an innovating and hardly stagnant aristoc-
racy. Their wealth would (in the absence of any institutional resources) have been the
basis for many projects and ventures, this continuity of material change. Not least, as
will be discussed below, they may well have provided ships for exchange and
colonisation; only professional traders could have otherwise afforded to own them,
and their existence, given a small amount of trading, is doubtful. The patronage of
this hereditary aristocracy must have played a significant pan.

Patronage, design and ideology?
How would such patronage work? From simple registering of the character and
geographical spread of the painted scenes it is clear that the design of pottery is
implicated in this cultural complex whose components include war and violence,
death and divinity, and travel, as well as innovation in the field of craft specialisation.
But how? This is also to raise the question of the ideological motivation of style. Were
innovative Korinthians commissioning new designs in support of their political and
social strategies? How were potting Korinthians responding to their political and
social circumstances? This is one line of questioning which will be taken through the
following chapters.
Early archaic Korinth: design and style

I continue with the aryballos of Figures 1. 1 and now 3.1. The first half of this chapter
consists of sources juxtaposed with comments and leading to an interpretation of the
Boston aryballos in the context of visual lifeworlds of ideologies centred upon
corporeal form. In the second half Korinthian ceramic style is considered more

Part 1 An interpretive dialogue through a Korinthian aryballos
Men in a scene: structure and parataxis
Upon this aryballos two figures, armed and male, appear with a horse-man and an
artifact with birds. Males are the dominant human figure form painted upon pots of
this time. Of 360 human or part-human figures illustrated on the other pots only six
are definitely female, apart from the sphinxes. Three are named goddesses upon the
famous Chigi Olpe (Villa Giulia 22679; Amyx 1988: 32); the others are identified as
female by the presence of breasts. One is a modelled figure applied to an oinochoe
from Aetos (Robertson 1948: No. 1026,); the other two are dressed in long checked
robes, and one of these carries weapons. The sphinxes, apart from three males with
beards, have no sexual features.
I will propose that gender is a significant focus of imagery and its lifeworld. As the
social aspect of relations between the sexes, gender refers to socially constructed
notions of sexual difference, which may or may not make reference to biological
difference. Above all gender is to be understood as a relationship between masculine,
feminine and other sexual roles in society (Haraway 1991). An illustration of the
pitfalls to be avoided in the interpretation of this Korinthian imagery is in order here.
I have been strict in avoiding contemporary and ethnocentric recognition of sex.
Thus I have not counted long robes and long hair as indicators, on their own, of
female sex. Consider the usual interpretation of the scene upon an aryballos in the
Louvre (CA 617; Amyx 1988: 23) - the 'rape' or 'abduction' of Helen (Johansen
1923: 143-4, after Blinkenberg 1898) (Fig. 3.2). A robed figure at the centre of the
main frieze is considered to be Helen, because of robe, hair (?), and the desire to
make sense via mythological attribution. The face, of the figure has lost some
coloured slip, but close examination reveals the same line of incision used upon the
other male figures to indicate a beard. A bearded Helen may be acceptable, but I
suggest that the figure should be accepted as male. Consider also the passage of
Xenophanes (West 3, quoted on p. 1-43} which criticises the aristocracy of Kolophon

Art and the Greek City State

Figure 3.1 Aryballos Boston 95.12 (Fig. 1.1). Detail: main frieze.

for their rich robes, long hair and perfume. This all invalidates the mythological
attribution; another sense to the scene will become clear as I pursue this interpretive
This aryballos of Figures 1.1 and 3.1 is of earlier date. The variety of types of
human figure decreases as three-quarters of all later figures are either fighting
armoured soldiers (hoplites), riders, or sphinxes (these amounting to about one
quarter upon earlier pots). There is discard and invention of new figure types too:
there are only seventeen types of figure (out of forty-six in all) which are found in
both earlier and later scenes.
Here the centaur is not so much fighting the swordsman as standing in antithesis:
the postures mirror each other. In spite of all the discussion of mythical subject
matter for bibliography see Amyx 1988: 23) it is not really feasible to describe the
whole scene as a particular narrative, other than in the most general sense of an
illustration of a conflict by a tripod with attendant birds of prey and a mobile naked
swordsman. The geometric devices give some clues as to the structure of the scene.
The antithetical pair of centaur and warrior is surrounded by ten of the fourteen
ornaments. One hook on each side of the staff for the human elements opposed; a
double hook for the double-bodied monster; his split marked by the lozenge bar
between the front pair of legs. The other swordsman has a hook above, as does the
artifact (of human origin?). The birds of prey have their spiralled swastikas. Hence
connections are suggested between the human elements (hooks), in contrast to the
antithesis of man and monster; the birds have a separate association.
Many scenes on earlier pots are as fluid and indeterminate in their references,
antitheses, juxtapositions and sequences of figures, animals and other devices. The
majority are paratactic sequences, that is without clear connection between the
component elements of human figure, animal, floral or geometric devices. I do not
define parataxis in an absolute way. The term is used here comparatively to mark
scenes which have fewer syntactic or narrative links than others. To define para-
taxis as the absolute absence of syntax brings the problem of having to assert the
thoughts and perceptions of contemporary potters and viewers now dead, to assert
that they perceived no connection within scenes. Of course what appears as absolute
Early archaic Korinth: design and style

Figure 3.2 The mark of gender? A frieze from an aryballos in the Louvre (CA 617} claimed to show the
abduction of Helen. The figured frieze upon an aryballos in Oxford (Ashmolean 505/G 146), said to be
from Thebes; the long-haired figure in checked robe in the centre of the scene has been thought to be

parataxis to an archaeologist now, may have appeared as fully syntactic and narra-
tive then.
Consider Figure 3.3. The parataxis poses questions. In contrast, more scenes
involving people on later pots are immediately comprehensible or thematic, as a
battle between soldiers, hunt, race or procession (Table 2.3, p. 52). Nearly three-
quarters (forty-seven out of sixty-five) of my immediate reactions to the later figured
friezes were of recognition of narrative or syntactic themes. There are also clear
examples of illustration of myth (for example, Bellerophon and the Chimaira (Bos-
ton 95.10; Amyx 1988: 37; Fig. 2.4)).
There is a contrast, often invoked in interpretation, between non-sense and sense
or meaning, between design simply decorative and design pregnant with (mythologi-
cal) meaning. Much classical iconology has searched for mythological and other
meanings behind figured representations, relegating imagery which does not carry
such meaning to an order of the decorative. I will consider this distinction again
below, but here comment that the indeterminate itself may also mean. Fluidity and
indeterminacy may tie a scene to a collective assemblage (posing questions of
reference and connection). Parataxis, as I have thus defined it here, prevents the
Art and the Greek City State 76

Figure 3.3 Parataxis and clues to an assemblage: an aryballos in the British Museum (1869.12-15.1). 1
propose that, in contrast to other more 'narrative' or thematic scenes (for example the battle scenes found
upon various pots, Table 2.3), this is a scene marked by parataxis. The use of geometric and floral designs
breaks any strong syntactic or narrative links between the juxtaposed elements. Left is the collocation or
sequence of floral, bird, soldier, rider, bird, dog/lion, deer. Progression from human to the animal via the
bird is suggested, as perhaps are bird-flower connections (the two birds occur with the two floral elements
in the main frieze, as in the shoulder frieze).
Early ' archaic . Korinth: design and style 77

picture from falling under a rule or relation of signification and a subject. Centaur
and warrior: birds and artifact: nudity and swordsman. These can be recognised; but
there is much more which need not simply signify a 'subject'. I will explore this idea.

Tripods and cauldrons, stands and bowls, through heads and flora
The object in front of the centaur and behind the swordsman is a stand, ceramic most
probably, for a lebes or dittos, bowls for mixing wine, and appropriate to the (aristo-
cratic) symposion, drinking party. Amyx (1988: 19, after Cook 1972: 48) thinks that
a bowl is seated upon the stand and is pictured from above. Such artifacts have been
found; there is a stand and dinos in my sample, from Aetos (Robertson 1948, Nos.
225, 804). A series in Attika have elaborate floral and bird attachments to the rim
(Hampe 1960: Figs. 30-2, Pis. 6 and 7). A Kretan example with figured painting was
found in the cemetery at Arkades (illustrated by Hampe 1969, Pis. 13, 14, 15) and
there is one from Gortyn (ibid: PI. 18). They are analogous to the bronze cauldrons
and bowls set upon tripods or conical stands. These have a known lineage reaching
back to Mycenaean times (Benton 1935; Coldstream 1977: 334p8, Hampe and
Simon 1981: lllf; Herrmann 1966; Maass 1978, 1981; Rolley 1977; Schweitzer
1971: Chapter 7). The variety with conical stands were eastern-derived. They
sometimes had griffon, siren, or animal attachments, often protomes, on the rims, or
large annular handles (Bouzek 1967; Herrmann 1979; Muscarella 1992; also, for
Italy, Strom 1971: 154, 157). Many have been found dedicated in the sanctuaries of
Olympia and Delphi, and also on Ithaka. An inscription upon an example from
Delphi confirms they were prizes in the games (Rolley 1977 : No. 267) - an aristo-
cratic reference again.
Six earlier pots show tripods or bowl-stands; Table 3.1 lists all the occurrences,
with associations. Apart from the swords, weaponry and armour of soldiers, and the
bridles of horses (recall Pindar's reference to Korinthian horse bits: Olympian 13),
these are the only artifacts depicted in the figured scenes of Korinthian pottery. They
are thus marked out as special. Their dedication in sanctuaries and their award as
prizes at the games also mark them out as special artifacts. The Greek and generic
term for them is agalmata - artifacts with value fit for a hero or god, mediating
mortality and divinity (Gernet 1981).
The seated birds upon this aryballos do not appear to be attachments to the dinos,
but rather live birds of prey resting upon the artifact. Other pots do show bird or
avian protome attachments. Of seven sorts of tripods or stands, five are associated in
some way with birds (Table 3.1).
On a pyxis from the sanctuary of Artemis Orthia at Sparta (Johansen 1923, No. 19,
PI. 24.3; Fig. 3.4) an object in an animal scene appears to be a stand, but instead of
pot and protomes there emerge two plant-like growths (see Robertson 1948: 48-9).
Three of these stands are associated with 'exotic' (that is, eastern-derived) floral
ornament. Free-standing in the friezes, the latter are very stylised (lotus, palmette
and tree-like derivations) and contribute to paratactic sequences, that is, again,
sequences of (juxtaposed) items which seem to have little syntactic or narrative
connection (see Figure 3.6 for all free-standing floral designs in the sample). Of the
Art and the Greek City Stale

Table 3.1. Tripods, stands, heads and the floral: some associations in afield of the special
found in earlier friezes. Listed are nineteen scenes and the different elements they contain.

eight examples of flora in the sample which do not occur on their own, five are
associated with birds (Table 3.1).
Benton (1953: 331) makes the analogy between bird protome friezes and griffon or
avian protomes upon cauldrons or bowls. Avian heads or protomes appear in line of
repetition on six pots (like birds lined on many earlier and contemporary 'sub-
geometric' vessels (Neeft 1975)). On the shoulder of another aryballos from
Pithekoussai (Lacco Ameno 168268; Neeft 1987; 33.A. 1) freely drawn designs look
like bird protomes crossed with triangular stands (Fig. 3.4: compare with the
protomes upon the two pots from Naples, also illustrated, and the tripod stands there
and in Figure 3.5). The floral ornaments on an aryballos in the British Museum
(1969.12-15.l; Fig. 3.3) again almost look like stands.
The similarity between protome, stand and (free-standing) floral is not simply a
general impression. They have graphical schemata in common: (outlined) triangle
(filled and crossed) and ('S') curve (turned out or in) (Figure 3.5 to be compared
with Figure 3.6). The common schemata may be argued to be a function of force of
visual habit, of graphical convention adapted to represent different things, and
therefore implying nothing more than formal association. On mis formal association
of schemata Gombrich refers to the 'psychological fact that designers will rather
modify an existing motif than invent one from scratch' (Gombrich 1979: 210). The
Early archaic Korinth: design and style 79

Art and the Greek City State 80

Figure 3.5 Tripods and cauldrons, stands, bowls and constituent graphical components or schemata.
Here are shown the tripods and stands with cauldrons and bowls. Below are other designs which are
graphically related. All are based upon inclined line and circle or curve; see also Figure 3.

similarity between these designs would accordingly be incidental, simply the way
pot-painters learned how to draw. I hope to push the association and consider
whether there is a semantic connection too.
An aryballos, probably earlier {Delphi 6582; Fig. 3.4), shows crested helmets and
other objects which Snodgrass interprets as shields (Snodgrass 1964: PI. 14). These
are the only other artifacts detached from people on earlier Korinthian vessels in the
sample. They too are associated with flying birds (of prey).
Helmets, heads, protomes. An aryballos in Brussels (A2; Amyx 1988: 18; Figure
3.4) provides another variation. On the shoulder is a line of winged male human
protomes. Beneath is a scene of a tree-like floral flanked by three birds, two in contact
with winged and helmeted protomes, crests growing from helmeted heads.
1 argue that this all comprises a line or vector of connection or affiliation as follows
- the tripod/stand agalma, special object, gift to the gods, prize in the games,
convivial bowl from which may be taken wine for the (lord's) cup - bird heads
(protome attachments) - birds - floral decoration - helmet heads growing crests and
spread wings -. That these stands and weaponry are the only artifacts depicted, that
the floral is adapted from eastern motifs (Johansen 1923: 115-28), that these are a
radical break with geometric design (further details p. 160), that these are elaborated
and manipulated with cauldrons and bowls growing avian heads, lotus palmette
standing like tripods, that they are juxtaposed with animal creatures, people and
birds marks them as different, extra-ordinary or special, I argue. That the graphical
basis of tripods and free-standing floral designs is the same confirms this connection
of things conceived special.
Compare also the experience, as in Geometric design (Figure 2.1), of an environ-
ment of ceramic surface which repels attention, providing only an accent of detail
such as a bird (as upon the bird-cups of late Geometric and after, with a surface such
Early archaic Korinth: design and style 81

Figure 3.6 Standing floral designs and constituent or related graphical components. To the right are all
the types of free-standing floral designs occurring in the sample. To the left are the geometric forms
(frequently found) which are the basis of the floral: triangle (crossed, outlined and apex extended
stem-like), 'S' curve and petal shape. Between is a column of rarely occurring composite forms which
indicate [he process of graphical composition of the floral to be elaboration of inclined line and circle or
curve. The rows of floral designs are not meant as a definitive classification; there are many interconnec-
tions. The first group are developments from floral design with triangle petals and outside stems. The
second row is of variations of stemmed triangles until the last on the right when the triangle is discarded.
The third is of free-floating line-stems. The fourth group is of triple-petal and stemmed forms. There are
then outlined triangle bases with dotted tops, stacked and stemmed. The bottom two designs are petalled
bases with out-turned lines.

as this aryballos which invites scrutiny, poses questions. Earlier I claimed that the
(graphical) fluidity and indeterminacy (of parataxis) tie a scene to a collective assem-
blage, posing questions of reference and connection. This is an order of the affective-
assumption, movement, action upon, inclination, disposition. An ordinary world is
not 'depicted'.
Gernet (1981) has drawn upon a seminal distinction made by Mauss (1954)
between the gift and the commodity. The commodity is an artifact abstracted or
alienated from its conditions of production such that it may signify something else
which is external to it: money is of this order of commodities, of course. The gift,
however, is inalienable; the artifact implicates its conditions of production and the
people who made it; the artifact takes on the attributes of people. The gift is a total
social phenomenon. Gernet contrasts the external value of a commodity, belonging
Art and the Greek City State 82

with abstract exchangeability, with the intrinsic value of the symbolic artifact, at once
the expression and guarantor of value. The inalienable artifact is agalma, charged
with meaning, affective.
Gernet (1981: 145) proposes the distinction is appropriate to the shift to a
monetary economy, with economic value eclipsing the older complex artifact. Men-
tion may also be made here of Laum's older thesis (1924) of the sacred and cultic
origins of currency - monetary forms emerging from being embedded in culture and
social relations. Gernet outlines agalmata as religious, aristocratic and agonistic
symbols, offerings, gifts and prizes, listing cups, tripods, cauldrons, weapons and
horses. Media of aristocratic intercourse, these are never to be 'traded', but 'ac-
quired' (as ktemata) through war, raiding, contest and hospitality-institutions of an
archaic transfer of goods. Agalmata are aristocratic wealth, their possession implicat-
ing social power and authority, and may be, Gernet argues, associated with concepts
of religious awe (aidos), teras and pelor, things extraordinary, mysterious, frightening,
even monstrous.
The observed associations: these are not ordinary things, but a special assemblage
of agalmata, weaponry, heads, birds, the floral and transformation, with connections
beyond. Visual play or tropes; the risk of free-hand painting; and the variety and
surprise of juxtaposed people, soldiers, animals, birds, the exotic: these are some
creative elements of this earlier Korinthian design. They are no longer as apparent in
later scenes. There are two later pots which carry depictions of tripod-stands and
bowls/cauldrons: Taranto 4173 (Amyx 1988: 38; Fig. 3.19) and another aryballos
from Syracuse, (ibid.: 44; Fig. 3.34). Both are in race scenes (presumably as prizes,
symbols of contest). The only other artifact is a net in a hare hunt (depicted upon an
aryballos from Nola and in the British Museum, 1856.12.26.199; Amyx 1988: 24).
The character of the floral also changes, and it is to this that I now turn,

Flowers and garlands
I have mentioned how tripods and cauldrons, stands and mixing bowls, standing
floral designs and bird protomes have a common graphical basis. The oblique line or
inclination, the curve ('S', and tending to spiral or circle), and petal form are the basis
of floral forms (and more). Operations performed upon these to generate different
designs include combination, rotation, inversion and reflection: consider the differ-
ent designs in Figures 3.5, 3.6, 3.9 to 3.12.
Korinthian Geometric design, as defined by Coldstream (Coldstream 1968:
Chapter 3), used parallel linearity, 90°, 60° and 45° rotation (perpendiculars and
diagonals, as in the meander, lozenge, cross forms, zig-zag and triangle). Snakes and
wavy lines were not elaborated, and flow around a pot. 'Thapsos' graphics of the later
eighth century (see also Neeft 1981: esp. Fig. 2.2) added particularly running spirals,
but did not break with the linear and horizontal flow. Geometric angularity con-
tinues, but inclination (breaking with the tendency to parallel, perpendicular and 45°
slope; asymptotic, tending to a limit or tangent), curve (freed from linear flow around
a vessel), and petal form mark a character of the new graphics and the change from
Geometric. This is illustrated and further explained in Figures 3.8 to 3.13.
Early archaic Korinth: design and style 83

Figure 3.7 A Korinthian cup from the sanctuary of Aphaia on Aegina.

Flowers are significant. Of 232 different designs (animals, people, monsters,
artifacts, excluding simple lines or bands), half can be interpreted as floral or vegetal
in some way (Figs. 3.5 to 3.12). Such floral or vegetal designs appear in 1,453 out of
3,293 friezes in the sample: 44 per cent of all friezes make some reference to the floral
in this way. A floral theme dominates 8 per cent of all earlier, 14 per cent of later
friezes (that is, these friezes consist entirely of floral elements). There are no floral
antecedents in Korinthian Geometric design.
The aryballos itself may be painted as a flower. Petals are painted around the
shoulder of earlier aryballoi, as are triangles. Viewed from above, this makes a flower
of the aryballos, with the mouth as centre of a blossom (Fig. 3.14). There are 118
such petalled shoulders, 289 with triangles: 53 per cent of earlier pots are floral in this
way. The proportion drops to 21 per cent of later pots. Many mouthplates of
aryballoi are also decorated in floral fashion, with concentric petals and spikes. Plates
are also decorated as flowers (from Perachora: Dunbabin et al. 1962: Nos. 738, 739,
7 4 1 ; from Aetos: Robertson 1948: Nos. 1062, 1065; Fig. 3.14).
The character of the floral changes in later designs. I have just mentioned the
decline in the proportion of floral shoulders. I should also note though the marked
rise in 'spiked' bases. With triangle points rising from the foot of a pot the whole
aryballos becomes the blossom centre or fruit, the base forming the flower centre
when the pot is viewed from below. Other major changes include a shift in preference
from free-standing floral designs as major frieze elements to linked garlands and
rosette forms in friezes and as minor ornament.
Art and the Greek City State 81

Figure 3. 8 Suggested relationships between the groups of non-figurative designs. Here are shown the
basic groups of non- figurative forms (indicated by a single representative) and how they may be linked via
transformations and elaborations (such as deviation, division, repetition and addition). For example, the
horizontal line (top left) may be altered acording to 90 degree angularity in to a zig-zag or meander, may be split
into a line of dots. Separate dots may be combined into dot rosettes, and are associated with circle forms,
in which they sometimes appear (top right and below). The dots of a rosette may be joined by lines;
rosettes may be made with petal forms (moving to bottom right).
These vectors of graphical design are the subject of Figure 1.9-1,12 which contain all the non-
figurative designs encountered upon Korinthian ceramics. The principle in constructing these figures is
thus one of seriation - constructing series on the basis of minimum difference between adjacent forms.
Figure 3.13 suggests a simple graphical logic to the design transformations. Forms which may be
described as floral (to the right here in this Figure) can be derived from inclined line and curve or circle.
Geometric forms (to the left) are based upon parallel linearity and 90°, 60° and 45° rotation.
Of course, other pathways through the geometric and floral may be found, but they would need to be
related to another design analytic, another way of understanding Korinthian design.

1 have already traced some links within the paratactic sequences of earlier friezes,
from tripods through birds, flowers and heads. The basic graphical elements of
oblique inclination, curve and petal are manipulated to form a variety of 'free-
standing' designs (that is they appear used as people and animal creatures) (Fig. 3.6).
Early archaic Korinth: design and style 85
Art and the Greek City State



Figure 3.12 Elaborated floral designs (garlands) of the later pots. Here are illustrated variations upon
lotus and palmette, joined by lines or stems into 'garlands'. The graphical basis of all forms remains the
curve and inclined line, combined in the petal form.
Early archaic Korinth: design and style 87

Figure 3.14 The aryballos as flower (smaller item in the figure) - aryballos 168021 in the museum in
Lacco Ameno, from Pithekoussai grave 509, viewed from above. The plate as flower (larger item) - design
from the surface of a plate found at Aetos.

The articulation of these floral designs is mainly through juxtaposition with other
designs in the friezes (parataxis). In later friezes regular forms of petal and triangle
(lotus and palmette) and wavy line (stem) are articulated and elaborated into floral
garlands (Fig. 3.12; Johansen 1923:115f for further descriptive analysis). Later floral
decoration thus appears less generative of immediate association through paratactic
juxtaposition. Garlanded floral decoration is rarely associated in the same frieze with
Art and the Greek City State 88

animate or inanimate figures, though there is still the contrast between garlands and
other friezes upon the same pot.
The dot rosette appears as a regular minor element in 259 later friezes (12 per cent
of all friezes, 55 per cent of friezes with animals and people); dot rosette and dot
flower variants account for 53 per cent of all minor or 'filling' ornament, a form of
decoration which accounts for only 7 per cent of earlier design. I will return to this
contrast between earlier and later design.
The association of aryballoi and floral decoration may seem a reasonable one,
given aryballoi as probable perfume containers. This does not, however, explain the
particulars of floral design: why should flowers transform into other things, why floral
garlands and dot rosettes? And why the associations within a vocabulary of figurative
design? I will need to consider these questions before returning to flowers and
Found on a third-century BC potsherd:

Come here to me from Crete to this holy shrine,
with its apple grove for your delight
and altars smoking with incense.
A cool stream sounds through the apple
boughs; the whole place is shaded
beneath roses; and from shimmering leaves
takes hold enchanted sleep.
Horses graze in the meadow with
spring flowers blossoming, the gentle breezes
here Cypris, taking up the garlands, graciously (habros),
pour nectar for our wine into golden cups, nectar mingled with
our festivities
Sappho: Lobel and Page 2
Early archaic Korinth: design and style 89

Flowers and the vegetal appear infrequently in Homeric epic and early lyric
metaphor and simile. Life is as the leaves of a tree (Iliad 6.146f); Mimnermos
writes of the flowers of youth (West 1.4), a development of an Homeric formula -
hebes anthos (for example Iliad 13.484; see also below on the soldier hero). The
association is made also by Sappho (Lobel and Page 98). Solon has flowers of
despair in social disorder (West 4.35). Flowers appear as a complement to amorous
relationships (Archilochos, West 30 and 31; Alkman: 58; Sappho, Lobel and Page
96). In the Iliad (14.346f) the earth flowers as complement to the amorous fertility
of Zeus and Hera in shimmering golden cloud. Sappho connects the Divine Muses,
flowers and immortality, which are contrasted with death, loss and decay (Lobel
and Page 55).
The fragments remaining of Sappho are the richest of early lyric in their references
to the floral. Her poetic world is one of a refined aristocratic high-culture of religious
cult-organisation, perhaps that of Aphrodite (Frankel 1975:175,182, 187). Flowers
and perfumes are part of the accoutrement of the girls of this environment. Associ-
ations are made between flowers, love lyric and perfume (Lobel and Page 94) and
between flowers, adornment and divinity (Lobel and Page 81b). (See also Burnett
1983: Pts. 3.1,32). Consider the imagery of the fragment quoted above (Lobel and
Page 2). The association of divinity, erotic fertility, flowers, perfume, horses, divine
food and wine drinking is one which will recur.
In two more fragments (Lobel and Page 105a and 105c) Sappho uses again the
image of an apple orchard:

Like the sweet apple turning red on the branch top, on the
top of the topmost branch, and the gatherers did not notice it,
rather, they did notice, but could not reach up to take it.
like the hyacinth in the hills which the shepherd people
step on, trampling into the ground the flower in its purple bloom
Sappho: Lobel and Page 105a and 105b
translation (Lattimore 1960: 42)
Here a contrast is made between the beauty of an exceptional individual and orchard
workers below, analogous to a hyacinth trampled by shepherds in the hills. Sappho's
(divine) world of flowers, perfumes and beauty is far removed from that of agricul-
tural labour such as described by Hesiod.
Two scenes in the Odyssey confirm and extend this contrast. Sappho's pastoral
evocation is close to the delights which Hermes finds on Ogygia, the island of nymph
Kalypso (5.55f). Scented wood, flowered meadows, springs, vines, birds surround
her cave (not a built structure). (Note too that birds are the only creatures, apart from
Art and the Greek City State 90

horses, mentioned in the fragments of Sappho.) Natural (as opposed to man-made)
beauty abounds. As divinity, Hermes eats and drinks fragrant ambrosia and nectar
(5.93f), not the fruits of agriculture. The island is far from the home of Odysseus
where await his legal wife, son and household. Kalypso's cave is a most startling
description of floral idyll as her divine erotic charms keep Odysseus with her, though
against his will, for seven years. According to Lilja (1972: 172-8) the erotic signifi-
cance of flowers is generally clear in early Greek poetry.
Having left Ilion, Odysseus and his men came to the country of the Lotus-eaters
{Odyssey 9.82f). Feeding on this strange and unique anthinon eidar (flowering food)
(9.84), people do not want to return home. The contrast is drawn between the
Lotus-eaters, and men, siton edontes (eaters of bread) (9.89), who know the way home
Koch-Harnack (1989) has examined the contexts of lotus blossoms on Attic red
and black figure vases. There are associations with lions and contests; the thunder-
bolt of Zeus appears in lotus form; their occurrence between animals and birds, in
fights and erotic scenes suggests a multivalency centred upon might {ibid.: 62) and
the erotic. An apotropaic function is also proposed (ibid.: 90).
So, in early Greek lyric poetry the following themes are associated with the floral:
youth, perfume, beauty and the erotic, cult and divinity, power, wine, refinement
and a world more than that of ordinary life, a contrast to labour and agriculture,
bread and marriage.
The floral in Korinthian painting is a new deviation from a Geometric graphic into
an expressive linearity of curve and inclination. There are associations too between
flowers, birds and special objects.

Birds and lions, to sphinxes
Birds of prey appear upon this aryballos in Boston with a separate spiralled ornament
and next to the agalma, stand and bowl. I have described the associations which run
through birds, heads, floral ornament and artifacts upon earlier friezes. I turn now to
ask more general questions of the birds.
Potters painted various kinds of bird. As well as flying and perched birds of prey (as
on the Boston aryballos), there are short-legged birds with and without tails, cocks,
water birds (long-legged, heron-like and crouching, curved-neck, swan-like) and
owls, as well as protomes. The variety of types decreases between earlier and later;
there are no herons or cocks in later friezes, and very few standing water birds,
short-legged birds and protomes; most are swan-like water birds.
Birds are significant in this Korinthian imagery simply in terms of their numbers.
Nearly half of all animate creatures on earlier friezes are birds. Of these, most (70 per
cent) are water birds standing upright and repeated in rows, the linear fashion of
Geometric, flowing around mainly drinking cups. Most other birds are next to floral
or geometric designs; a few are next to people and artifacts, as I have already
described. I have argued that reference is here made to an order which is out of the
ordinary. Birds later come to crouch next to lions and sphinxes (people too); they are
Early archaic Korinth: design and style 91

Figure 3.15 Dogs hunting a bird, Design from an aryballos in Syracuse (13756) and from the Fusco
cemetery, grave 378.

chased by dogs, while direct association and confrontation with other creatures is
When birds are chased by dogs in later scenes, they crouch quite static, in contrast
to hares which run with the hounds; this suggests that perhaps the juxtaposition is
valued above a more realistic depiction. With dogs and hares, birds are the only
creatures TO appear beneath racing horses. So birds go with dogs. Dogs, horses and
birds are also the only candidates for domesticated animals in this imagery (see
discussion p. 75). Dogs appear with hardly any other creature. They do not occur in
association with people in earlier scenes and in only thirty-nine later hare hunts. Yet
there are more than 2,400 dogs painted in the sample - nearly 60 per cent of all
creatures; and dogs are the main domesticate. Birds do appear with people, and in
this way they mediate between people and the dog, which does not belong with the
men, domesticated though it may have been and however often it may have accom-
panied the hunter.
Birds occur mainly with lions and sphinxes (and people) in later friezes. What is to
be made of this association? Of course sphinxes are composite bird, lion and person.
But there is more.
Consider the devices painted upon hoplite shields (Table 3.2). If the designs upon
the shields of painted hoplites are considered to indicate something of the soldier
behind, then the bird, particularly the flying bird of prey, is the mirror of the hoplite
infantryman. Table 3.2 also indicates that this significatory function of shields does
not apply to earlier imagery. Birds go with the soldier. Of the different kinds of bird,
birds of prey are also the type which appear with people in later scenes.
With birds, lions are an important creature simply in terms of the number that are
painted. There are as many lions as people in earlier scenes, and they are the majority
(apart from dogs) upon later pots. Yet there are few occasions when lions and people
appear next to each other - only fourteen times in the whole pottery sample, out of
546 encounters between lions and other creatures. Lions and people do not go
together in this way.
In the later imagery lions confront animals, appear with boars, bulls and goats, and
are pictured with other lions. Of 257 lions, ninety-two are directly confronting
another animal face-to-face. Of these, forty-three are boars and bulls, wild and
violent animals, fitting opponents for lions. Boars and bulls also oppose each other.
Lions are painted roaring, sometimes leaping and attacking; there are thirteen scenes
of a lion attacking another animal or person. This order of violence and confronta-
tion is one which connects with the violent and masculine world of the soldier
depicted upon the pots.
Art and the Creek dry State

Table 3.2. Shield devices

earlier later

bird of prey
1 1
bull's head
swan 5
lion's head
gorgon head 2
griffon head
owl 1
cross and birds of prey
flying griffon
boar's head
ram's head
circles 1
animal? 1

A link between lions and people is clear in the bodily form of the sphinx. And lions
appear following sphinxes, rather than opposing them. The connection also occurs
through a presence of birds, sphinxes and winged creatures in scenes with lions. It
can be expressed like this: when, in a frieze which features lions, there is a human
element present (soldier, person, or monstrous human), there is a 91 per cent chance
that there will be a bird or winged creature next to the lion, or next but one (Tables
3.3 and 3.4). This association of lions, birds and people is not present at all in earlier
As I have written, many of the winged creatures next to lions are sphinxes,
mixtures of lion, bird and human. They are the most numerous monster seen on later
pots: eighty out of 116 monstrous creatures. Of these eighty, sixty-six are confronting
another sphinx face-to-face. This direct confrontation often occurs over a geometric
device or bird, hare or hoplite. So it might be said that the sphinxes are not so much
confronting each other as focusing upon something between them. The intervening
geometric element takes us back to the earlier association noted between birds and
floral and geometric ornament; sphinxes are of an avian order. Indeed, just as
sphinxes here do not interact with other creatures, so too most earlier birds appear
only with other birds in rows. Sphinxes face over birds and hares. I have noted the
association of birds, dogs and hares: is there something of the dog in the sphinx?
Dogs too hardly interact with other animals.
Sphinxes confronting over something may be said to form a parenthesis. Scenes
upon later pots involving lions often have a similar structure of opposition and
Early archaic Korinth: design and style

Table 3.3. Birds and winged creatures
near lions (in scenes with a human

number of birds occasions
0 bird 5


. 3
( 8)