Corinth in the Classical period

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Corinthian aryballos (perfume jar) in the shape of an owl

Corinthian aryballos (perfume jar) in the shape of an owl (now in the Louvre, Paris)

In the 800s and 700s BC, Corinth was very wealthy from trade and from selling their perfume in little fancy pottery jars. Corinthian traders also  sold the jars themselves. But by the late 700s BC, the Athenians had begun to make fancy pottery too. There was a lot of competition between the two cities. In the end, by about 550 BC, the Athenians had pretty much taken over the fancy pottery industry. Corinth stopped producing fancy pottery to sell to other countries.

Corinthian helmet from the 600s B

Corinthian helmet from the 600s B

But Corinth was still an important port, and remained a wealthy city anyway. Some of the first evidence we have for tyrants and hoplites comes from Corinth, about 650 BC. Corinth never developed a fully democratic government, but by the 400s BC there was a sort of constitutional council that ran things. Corinth was the home of the Isthmian Games, which were like the Olympic Games.

During the Persian Wars, Corinth pretty much followed the lead of Sparta, and this was also true during the Peloponnesian War, when Corinth took the side of Sparta and provided a lot of soldiers and money to the fight against Athens. After the Peloponnesian War, in the 300s BC, Corinth was involved in several smaller wars, and after Sparta collapsed Corinth even became the leader of her own alliance, the Corinthian League. By 338 BC, however, Corinth had been conquered by Philip of Macedon, like all the other Greek cities.

Learn by doing: paint a Greek pot
More about St. Paul visiting Corinth

Bibliography and further reading about ancient Corinth:

More about St. Paul visiting Corinth
More about Corinthian coins
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By | 2017-07-06T23:04:52+00:00 July 6th, 2017|Government, Greeks, History|0 Comments
Cite this page: Carr, K.E. Corinth in the Classical period. Study Guides, July 6, 2017. Web. December 12, 2017.

About the Author:

Karen Carr

Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.

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