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Art of the Archaic period


Poetry is an important part of the culture of the archaic era, since it reflects almost all of the above events. In poetry, the Greeks reinterpreted the reality surrounding them.

The era of heroes has gone with Homer, but the memory of it remains, and many poets have a desire to imitate the bygone past - this is how cyclic poems appear. Their authors are epigones of Homer, who, not creatively following the tradition founded by the great poet, did not contribute practically anything new to poetry, therefore, the Greeks in the later era called incompetent writers "cyclic poets". On the other hand, thanks to them, the myth of the Trojan War was almost completely described in the literature.

In such a mediocre poetic environment, a remarkable person stands out - Hesiod (late VIII - early VII centuries BC). This Boeotian farmer wrote works fundamental to certain genres of Greek literature. His "Theogony" - a poem about the origin of the gods - marks the beginning of cosmogonic works describing the origin, kinship, life and fate of the gods. The second poem "Works and Days" was didactic in nature, becoming the first in a series of edifying books. In it, Hesiod told about the everyday life of ordinary Greek farmers, which he had a real idea about, since he himself lived in Boeotia and worked on the land all his life.

The archaic era is the time of the formation of lyrical poetry. Greek poets did not read poetry, but sang, so music left a special imprint on their work. The first and most famous among the archaic poets was Archilochus, who lived on the island of Paros in the middle of the VII century BC. He was born into the family of an impoverished aristocrat and by nature was a man inclined to adventure: he served in mercenary troops and died during one of the battles. With regard to the language and technique of verse construction, Archilochus took Homer as a model. In general, his work is characterized by complete disregard for the norms of behavior inherited from his ancestors and the previous tradition associated with ideas of honor: for example, the poet throws a shield on the battlefield, runs cowardly and does not feel guilty. This behavior is typical for mercenary warriors. Archilochus was the first to write in iambic (a two-syllable foot with an accent on the second syllable); before him, there was only a hexameter in Greek poetry. The change in versification played a big role, because in antiquity, which did not know rhyme, poems were characterized only by rhythm: the number of accents, the alternation of stressed and unstressed syllables, as well as their certain number in a line.

Another famous poet was Anacreon, who lived on the island of Theos, near Asia Minor (the middle of the VI century BC). In imitation of him, Anacreontic poetry arose in Roman times, glorifying the joy of life associated with refined pleasures. Anacreon is a singer of feasts, wine and love, far from politics. However, in some of his poems, the fear of old age and death is visible, which is quite natural for a person for whom the meaning of existence is limited by the framework of earthly life.

Another pair of poets - Alcaeus and Sappho - lived on the island of Lesbos (late VII-VI century BC). Alcaeus created bravura military marches (embaterias) and drinking songs (scolias). Sappho wrote in the Aeolian dialect, largely based on folk folklore, she has a lot of love lyrics. Later, one of the metrical forms that she used in her songs, performed to the accompaniment of the lyre, was called the sapphic stanza. According to the legendary legend, Alcaeus was in love with Sappho, but did not achieve reciprocity. The poetess herself committed suicide because of an unhappy love for another man.

In continental Greece, in Sparta, lived the poet Tirtheus. The Spartans did not pay enough attention to the fine arts, so Tirtheus is not a typical example for Spartan culture - he was almost the only one among his tribesmen who wrote talented poems on the military theme beloved by the Lacedaemonians.

In the archaic era, choral lyrics appear. It was based on three elements: poetry, music and dance. Choral lyrics become a prototype of the Greek theater, since in this genre the structure is being developed according to which the works of tragedians will be built. The most prominent representative of choral lyrics was Pindar from Thebes (VI century BC). Mostly his works were dedicated to the winners in competitions or games. According to Pindar, the winner can die in peace, because a person is not able to do more.


Early Greek philosophy originated in the eastern region, in the Ionian cities and was greatly influenced by the East - this is the so-called "philosophy of nature", natural philosophy, in which the awakening of ancient Greek thought takes place, testing the essence of the origin of the world. Three major philosophers of this time lived in Miletus. Thales believed that the world and all living things originate from water. According to Anaximenes, the universe consists of air: when it thickens, water arises, and when it discharges, fire. The third thinker, Anaximander, singled out a kind of boundless primeval (apeiron), from which everything happened.

The scientific ideas of the Greeks about the world in the archaic era were not at a high level, so the importance of natural philosophy was not in specific knowledge, but in a special sense of universal interconnectedness, in the power of poetic generalization and an attempt to expand their own spiritual horizon.

Visual art.

The line between the Homeric and Archaic eras in art is characterized by a geometric style, a striking example of which is the Dipilon amphora found in Athens. Such vases were tombstones and their sizes reached human height. The surface of the vase is divided into a number of ribbons isolated from each other, in the center of the composition there is a funeral procession in which human figures are extremely schematized. The geometric style could not lead to the flourishing of vase painting, which arose in the VI-V centuries BC, and had to end with a dead end of decorativism. There was a sharp leap between the geometric style and the vase painting of the subsequent time, impossible without external influence, most likely from the East, which gave impetus to the development of Greek art. The East, despite its strong influence in the field of philosophy and culture of Greece, did not become the basis of Greek art, which was formed in its own way as an original and independent.

The vase painting of the new style originates in the VI century BC, it is a black-figure painting applied to a vessel with black paint. Initially, the subjects of the paintings are associated with mythology. Then there is a red-figure vase painting, when the images on the vessel are made out by coloring the background, and the figures retain the original color of the vessel walls. This painting, more complex in technique, makes it possible to depict small details. In later times, black-figure and red-figure ceramics coexisted.

"archaic apollons" or kuros appear in the sculpture - naked young people depicted with their legs outstretched, hands at their sides, fists sometimes clenched. The figures have a frontal setting, the anatomical structure of the body is clearly traced. Kuros are a general type of person without individual traits. In the archaic era, similar images of women appear, for example, in a frontal position, dressed in long clothes, in which folds play an important role. The most famous was the statue of Hera from the island of Samos (VII-VI centuries BC). Before the IV century BC . the Greeks rarely depicted women, because for them the image of true harmony of spirit and body was a man who was in the center of the artists' attention. The famous mysterious "archaic smile" was depicted on the faces of all the sculptures, emphasizing not the specific features of the statues, but the idealized image of a person embodied in them, which becomes the measure of the basic values for the classical era.