Geometric art flourished in the 9th and 8th centuries BC. The style is characterised by abstract motifs like the ‘meander’ (or ‘Greek key’), triangles and linear decoration in various permutations and combinations. Different from the fluid, circular decoration and iconography of the preceding Minoan and Mycenean periods.
The repetitive, formulaic nature of the decoration reminds us of Homer’s epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey, where we have the literary equivalent of these motifs in the epithets and formulaic lines which form the bedrock of the poems.
On some geometric vases we see bands of birds, horses or ibex depicted, but again as repeated formulae. In the middle of the 8th century, there begin to appear human figures, such as on the famous Dipylon vase. They are shown in silhouette, without perspective, rather like ‘stick’ men and often as part of a funerary scene, which reflects the purpose for which many of these vases were used, namely as grave markers.
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