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PATRICIA KARVELAS: Welcome. My name is Patricia Karvelas, and I’m a proud Greek-Australian broadcaster. My parents were both immigrants to Australia from the Peloponnese, the south of mainland Greece. I have always been fascinated by the Ancient Greeks, which I feel a strong and powerful connection to, and also share with the world. I will be joining you on this tour and sharing with you 20 objects that have been chosen for their beauty, significance, and fascinating stories. These have been selected by one of Australia’s foremost scholars in Ancient Greek culture, Professor Alastair Blanshard from the University of Queensland – the researcher and author of this tour.

For thousands of years, the culture of the Ancient Greek peoples has fascinated all those who have encountered it. We have been captivated by its tales of heroes and monsters. Its tragedies have reduced us to tears. We’ve been left breathless by the beauty of its sculpture.

Such works do not happen by accident. As this exhibition shows, they emerge from an environment of intense competition. In every field of Greek life, there was a reluctance to settle for second best. Whether it was writing a play, carving a statue, or competing in the pentathlon, the desire was always to come first, to triumph. This spirit of competition was accompanied by a sense of freedom to innovate and challenge norms. This Greek willingness to risk everything in seeking perfection makes them a continuing subject of admiration.

The Greek culture that we are exploring today first emerged on the shores of the Mediterranean between the 10th to the 8th century BCE. Throughout this tour you’ll encounter the terms BCE, Before Common (or current) Era and CE, Common (or current) Era. BCE and CE are alternatives to BC and AD, terms you might also be familiar with.

Greek culture would soon spread throughout the Mediterranean. By the 6th century BCE, there were Greek communities all the way from Spain and southern France through to Italy and North Africa, and then onto the Black Sea. Two hundred years later, the sphere of Greek influence would be further expanded by Alexander the Great and his successors, whose conquests would cement the place of Greek culture in locations such as Egypt, Persia and Afghanistan. Throughout this exhibition you’ll see objects from many of these different parts of the Greek world. Yet, in all of them is that spark of genius, that unquenchable Greek fire that burns brightly throughout the ages.

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This is an edited transcript typed from an audio recording.
The National Museum of Australia cannot guarantee its complete accuracy.

© National Museum of Australia 2007–21. This transcript is copyright and is intended for your general use and information. You may download, display, print and reproduce it in unaltered form only for your personal, non-commercial use or for use within your organisation. Apart from any use as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) all other rights are reserved.

Date published: 17 December 2021

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