Presenter: Dr Amelia Brown

The ancient Greeks were never politically unified before the rise of Rome, yet they succeeded in developing and maintaining a common culture all around the Mediterranean coasts ‘like frogs around a pond’ (Plato Phaedo 109b). Modern scholars struggle to explain how the ancient Greeks could have shared such strong bonds of religion, language and identity, despite a homeland of separate city-states, and large-scale migration and intermarriage with other ancient peoples around the Mediterranean sea. This lecture looks to the everyday practices of archaic and classical Greek maritime religion for an answer, focusing on the widespread cults of seafaring saviour gods and the rituals practiced at harbors and aboard ships for safe arrival ashore. I argue that the religious system of sailors and travellers helped the ancient Greeks develop and maintain their common culture all around the Mediterranean sea. Cults of seafaring gods like Aphrodite, Apollo, Hera, Poseidon and the Dioscuri were carried from port to port around ancient Greece, to the Greek colonies, and into foreign cities, yet this maritime religion and carriage of cults ‘on the winedark sea’ is not well understood today. The sources are very widely scattered, from ancient testimonia for seafaring rituals of embarkation, accurate navigation and safe arrival on shore, to the archaeological remains of shipwrecks, harbourside sanctuaries and votive offerings. Bringing this evidence back together, however, reveals a durable yet flexible network of travelling rituals and beliefs which bound the ancient Greeks together in unexpected and close-knit ways, even across great distances and without political bonds.


The lecture will be followed by light refreshments.

This is a free event. For catering purposes, you are asked to register online or contact The Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens (arts.aaia@sydney.edu.au or (02) 9351 4759).

 

About Classics and Ancient History Seminars

Event details

  • The seminars take place at 4pm, in the Michie Building (09), Room 536
  • Seminars are also on Zoom. Send an email to Duncan Keenan-Jones (d.keenanjones@uq.edu.au) for the link.
  • Upcoming seminars can be found here.
  • Please be aware that we are still operating under Covid-19 regulations during public events. Masks are no longer required at UQ locations - however, UQ strongly encourages mask wearing when physical distancing is not possible. UQ strongly encourages all campus attendees to be up to date with vaccinations. And finally, those who are feeling unwell, have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the previous 7 days or have been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 7 days, are asked not to attend this seminar.
  • For those attending in person, if you would like to join us for drinks and/or dinner afterwards at UQ’s St. Lucy's from 5:15 pm, please RSVP by email to Duncan Keenan-Jones (d.keenanjones@uq.edu.au) by 9am on the day of the seminar.
  • Please also contact Duncan Keenan-Jones should you have questions about the event.

The Friends of Antiquity, an alumni organisation of the University, runs its own series of public lectures, which take place on Sunday afternoons. The Friends’ program for can be found at https://alumni.uq.edu.au/friends-of-antiquity