Ancient Greeks and Indigenous Australians: Far Away, Yet So Close.


The cross cultural connections between Ancient Greeks and Indigenous Australians was the theme of a talk given last night at Sydney university by Dr Vassilis Adrahtas who presented the amazing array of similarities in the underlying hierophanics between the two cultural groups.

The event, entitled: “Myths and Dreamings: Cross Hatchings between Ancient Greece and Indigenous Australia” was the initiative of the Consul General of Greece in Sydney Mr Ioannis Mallikourtis hosted with The Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens.

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The event proved insightful and educational courtesy of the indigenous voice of Uncle Jimmy Smith and the academic perspective of Dr Vassilis Adrahtas, lecturer at Western Sydney University,  complemented by the great audience feedback, in particular from the indigenous audience members present.

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The talk  delved into a comparative approach to the similarities and differences between ancient Greek mythology and Indigenous Australian dreaming stories. This is basically uncharted waters for academia, but at the same time constitutes a life-long research journey for Dr Adrahtas.

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.

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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.

We look forward to similar initiatives and promising events which showcase the connections between Greeks and Australians by focusing on their respective age-old heritage.

The main point is to create the conditions for mutual and informed understanding and set an example for intercultural awareness and re-invention. The presence of Uncle Jimmy Smith at the event, and his amazing way in welcoming and embracing everyone into Gadigal country was, simply put, amazing!