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November 2017 Seminar Series. A Month with the Gods

A Month with the Gods: A Journey into the Life-World of Hellenic Myth


Topics pertaining to Ancient Greek mythology are very trendy nowadays. There seems to be something in the myths of the ancient Hellenes that keeps on fascinating people after so many centuries. However, many a time approaches to the Hellenic gods and heroes give the impression that they are driven by the exotic, the romantic or even the fanciful.

The present seminar series is based on my scholarly research and teaching experience and at the same time involves an experiential engagement with what it means to be a Hellene. It is my conviction that one can enter the life-world of Hellenic myth only if they manage to critically appreciate its otherness and subsequently find a way to connect to it personally. 

Two are the basic questions of this seminar series: What is a myth and how did the Hellenes envisage the Divine? Throughout you will have the opportunity to reflect on the historical, philosophical and psychological aspects of Ancient Greek religion; aspects that have had a tremendous impact on Western civilisation, culture and thought.

The seminar series will last for 4 consecutive weeks and will comprise 8 hours (each time taking up 2 hours of your Sunday late afternoons on the dates below). No prior knowledge is required.


The venue is the Kythera House, Suite 1, 24 King Street, Rockdale, at 4:00pm – 6:00pm, and the participation cost $10 per meeting. For further information call +61 431262823 or  email, George Poulos




1. (05/11) Divine Generations: Ubiquity and Excellence in Hesiod’s Theogony

Hesiod’s Theogony is usually described as the Hellenic version of Creation, but in effect the Hellenes had no notion of Creation –at least not what we understand by the term in a Christian sense. Theogony reflects a synthesis of the indigenous land-based experience of immanence and the Hellenic sky-based experience of transcendence. The resulting picture is one of divine ubiquity transforming itself into divine excellence (that is, a movement from Gaia to Zeus).       


2. (12/11) In the Image and Likeness of Gods: Presence and Absence in Homer’s Iliad

It is more or less a truism that Homer’s Iliad has been worked out thanks to an anthropomorphic conception of the Divine. The evidence, however, seems to point towards the opposite direction, namely, that the human reflects but does not define the Divine! This means that the Homeric Hellenic envisages the Divine more in terms of equivalence than in terms of equation. But then isn’t there something of the Divine missing in the human, precisely when the latter embodies the former?   


3. (19/11) The God that Irrupts: Otherness in the Cult of Dionysus

Dionysus stands for the most conspicuous case of otherness in the life-world of the Hellenic gods: the dialectics of ubiquity – excellence, on the one hand, and the dialectics of presence – absence, on the other, were intensified due to a hierophanic difference unknown previously. The cult of Dionysus –an old god that was experienced in an entirely new manner– reinvigorated the religious experience of the Hellenes taking it into a state of enhanced integration.      


4. (26/11) Eleusinian Mysteries and Orphic Religion: Perpetuity and Retribution

The old and the new, the immanent and the transcendent, were worked out in the religious experience of the Hellenes independently and to an extent in opposition to the mainstream civic religion of the Olympian pantheon. In both cases what emerged was a select and elitist religiosity that favoured the afterlife either in the guise of perpetuity (the Eleusinian Mysteries) or retribution (Orphic religion).



Dr Vassilis Adrahtas holds a PhD in Sociology of Religion from Panteion University and a PhD in Studies in Religion from the University of Sydney. He has been teaching at universities in Greece and Australia for the last fifteen years. He is the author of five books.                


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