Woman sitting in library

How Classical Greek culture conquered the modern world

The cultural history that developed around the Mediterranean Sea more than 2000 years ago has had a lasting impact on Western civilisation.

But the riches of that time we call Classical Antiquity has had an impact far beyond Europe and is still felt around the world.

In a Polish-led and European Research Council-funded project, researchers around the world are investigating how ideas from the interlocking Greek and Roman cultures of ancient times are entrenched among children everywhere.

The project, ‘Our Mythical Childhood’, is a survey of children’s culture around the world that is inspired by classical antiquity.

In the Asia-Pacific region, the task has fallen to University of New England researcher Dr Elizabeth Hale, to compile a database of world literature and culture for children and young adults inspired by Classical Antiquity.

She is writing a blog, called Antipodean Odyssey, charting her experience.

She says the project is “an unusual vision that brings together often overlooked material – children’s literature – with canonical culture”. she says. “We ask ourselves, what does it mean that these materials are so often taught to children? How are they taught to children? How do children think about classics?”

The project is producing some novel outcomes such as an exploration of the ways in which learning about how classical antiquity connects with people with autism as well as an animated series on Ancient Greek vases.

“I’m exploring the Antipodean literary and cultural landscapes for myths, figures, ideas, images, and cultural connections with Classical Antiquity,” says Dr Hale. “It’s looking like it will be a fascinating journey indeed.