Cross cultural connections between Ancient Greece and Indigenous Australia


The amazing array of similarities in the underlying hierophanics of ancient Greece and Indigenous Australia will be presented in a lecture by Dr Vassilis Adrahtas at the University of Sydney on Wednesday 8 March.

The free hybrid event, co-hosted by the Consulate General of Greece in Sydney and the Australian Archaeological Institute is available via zoom or on campus at the CCANESA Boardroom, Madsen Building, University of Sydney.

Although geographically and historically far apart – not to mention how much different in terms of life-forms and life-ordering – ancient Greece and Indigenous Australia present many similarities.

Ancient Greek myths are based upon and reflect the all-embracing reality of Physis (Nature), while the innumerable Indigenous Australian dreamings signify the all-encompassing nexus of what has been dubbed the Dreaming. Moreover, the Hellenic dialectics between Being and Becoming find their experiential equivalent in the Indigenous dialectics between the Visible and the Invisible. Perhaps even more importantly, narrative, song, dancing, music and art, all of them serve so profusely both worldviews and their respective everyday practices.

It has been aptly put that the quintessence of Indigenous Australia can be captured through the connotations of the Greek word topos, which means that the Hellenic worldview with all its mythological emphasis on this or that city-state locality resonates quite well with the fundamental Indigenous focus on site, place, country or land, through their respective dreaming performances.

The divergences between the two life-words on issues of temporality, transcendence, corporeality and individuality are more an occasion for reflection on human unity than a matter of cultural clash, incompatibility or incommensurability. In any case, the distinctiveness of both worlds remains as the ultimate background of the existential cross hatchings that we are called to draw over and over again.



Dr Vassilis Adrahtas writes a weekly column for Greek City Times, entitled Insights into Orthodoxy

He holds a PhD in Studies in Religion (USyd) and a PhD in the Sociology of Religion (Panteion University, Athens). He teaches Islamic Studies at Western Sydney University and Ancient Greek Religion and Myth at UNSW. His specialisation is in Early Christianity, Patristics, Byzantine Philosophy, Islamic Studies, Ancient Greek Religions and Indigenous Australian Religions. 

His Studies in Religions PhD thesis is titled Prophecy Dreamings: Hermeneutic Approaches to Some Instances of Indigenous Syncretism in Post/Colonial Australia. His most recent publication is Islam, Civility and Political Culture (Palgrave Macmillan 2021; co-ed. with Milad Milani)