australian colonial history
meg dillon
© Meg Dillon 2008
Australian Colonial History
Western Civilisation
Our course description outlines the traditional way many believe that Western Culture has evolved over the past 2500 years. But why pick these five main cultures or movements? Is this study too arcane and unrelated to our modern world? Have most of us forgotten or never known about these contributions to our society? In Australia at the moment the Ramsey Trust * , a private philanthropic trust, is trying to introduce a detailed study of these traditions into several Australian universities. The study would consist of the ideas, philosophies and literature of these cultures and may make deductions about what we may have borrowed from them. Their aim, we assume, is to sharpen our appreciation of the sets of values we have borrowed.

Ask Yourself

1. Are these the values that define us? – or is something else starting to happen to Western Culture? 2. Have we reached the end of Western Culture? After all, all other great traditions have emerged, consolidated and then declined. Why won’t we? Or; 3. Is our culture starting to move in a new direction? It has made dynamic changes of direction before. And constantly shifted and refined its values to accommodate new challenges. Is this a watershed shift similar in dimensions to those that mark the differences between the five periods? For example the changes between the Renaissance culture and the Reformation are extreme. 4. What are these new directions and why have they come about? 5. Maybe it’s something else all together? These are not easy questions to answer but I hope as we proceed to we will gain some insights into some of the values we have embraced, particularly over the last 200 years and the position we now occupy in the twenty first century.

Lets look at how two public commentators have explored this issue.

Douglas Murray, a columnist for the Spectator, and Yaron Brook, a former Execative Director for the Ayn Rand Institute discuss the topic ‘What is killing Western Civilisation?’ hosted by Claire Fox, an academic who identifies as a Hegelian and Marxist. This public discussion in London in 2016 was hosted by the Academy of Ideas, an Ayn Rand Foundation that both promotes its own ideas and invites public discussion. Brook, a disciple of the Foundation, takes the traditional view and Murray discusses his more nuanced ideas to be found in his book The Strange Death of Europe. Youtube video: Murray and Brook Western Civilisation

Brook argues that:

A set of ideas rooted in Greek philosophy shaped Western Europe. Its fundamental idea was a respect for ‘reason’ as the root of knowledge. It came under attack when the enlightenment secularized religion , introducing instead the cult of the individual. It was further eroded by nineteenth century German philosophers, Kant, Hegel and Marx. In the twentieth century the French philosophy of post-modernism created further declines by arguing, amongst other things, that each idea was as good as any other; and that ‘Reason’ was an illusory concept. Brook argues that Western Civilization has never been surpassed by better ideas, a richer life or better conditions.

Murray argues that:

The West has changed significantly because different people now inhabit it due to large-scale migration. The concept of ‘Us’ may have run out. We no longer have confidence in our ideas and actions. Two world wars in the twentieth century have destroyed the idea that we are ‘reasonable’ people. 17 million civilians and soldiers filled in World War One; between 40 and 100 million in World War Two. We have filled the void with materialism, which has corrupted us. But maybe, our fear of our culture’s mortality may be a key idea that reshapes us and keeps us continuing. Explain their use of full versions of some of the DVD material that is hyperlinked. Check who is familiar with this strategy. Discuss the use of their smart phones in the sessions to get additional information and to obtain relevant podcasts from ABC Radio. Get Terry to explain any technical problems they may have. Pause for questions and comments.

It all started with the Greeks

Why ancient Greece? Why not the Myceneans of Crete? Or the Medes and Persian empires? Or Ancient Egypt? Brief discussion of the relative importance of these three Mediterranean cultures. The Greeks superceded them and developed different models of political, social and economic power; the independent city- state and colonies. First we will take a brief look at these Mediterranean cultures and their demise. For it is from this early period around 1000 BC that the Greeks drew their myths of gods and heros, when the Greek world consisted of insignificant villages. These events and ideas were forged by Homer into the two great classics of Greek culture, that we still today read as ‘The Iliad and ‘The Odyssey’. View: Professor Eric Cline, ‘The Year Civilization Collapsed’

Cline argues that

The late bronze age Mediterranean cultures declined owing to a concurrence of at least three reasons. o A 300 year drought occurred which created famines. It lasted from approximately 1250 BC to 950 BC. It was mentioned in many surviving texts eg 1185 BC in Syria and also the Hittites in Turkey recorded it. It appeared to ravage the entire area affecting all Mediterranean cultures. Clay tablet evidence. o Increases war activities in the area. Evidence from arrowheads in excavated bodies from this period. Israel (Jerico?) destroyed and burnt by invaders in 1250 – 1200 BC. Archealogical evidence from digs. Also Ugart destroyed – burnt mud bricks. o Zone had a lot of seismic activity between 1225 – 1175 BC when a series of earthquakes destroyed a number of key sites eg Mycene built on fault lines. Both earthquake and tidal wave bodies excavated. Troy 6 suffered same fate from earthquake. Evidence archaeological dig. Eight or nine civilizations flourished round the Mediterranean and had strong trading interactions with each other. Earthquakes were prominent in area round 1170 BC. So droughts, famines, earthquakes, invaders , rebellions were all stressors that caused the late Bronze Age cultures to fall. Also the important consequences followed: o Central administrations disappeared o Elites disappeared o Centralized economies disappeared o Settlement shifted and populations declined. It only took about 200 years for these interlinked disasters to happen between 1200 – 1000 BC. The year 1177 BC was the watershed of this process. Dark ages followed and from these emerged the romantic stories including the oral of Homer, a reputed Greek poet, who was an amalgam of many versions of the myths about gods and heros that were first recorded about 800 BC. Cline argues these were memories of a supposed ‘golden age’ when prosperity reigned. Homer’s works The Iliad and The Odyssey became foundation texts of early Greek culture and were still revered 600 years later. We have inherited them too and they offer us interesting insights into early Greek culture and psychology.

The Iliad as a marker of Early Greek culture

While these texts were studied and translated by prominent scholars at Oxford and Cambridge (England) in the nineteenth century, they revered the heroism and cunning of the main protagonists in these texts. Today in the twenty first century we make a more nuanced reading of them and use them to deduce such information as the relative power of the various city-states that united under King Agamemnon of Mycenae to lay siege to Troy the position of women in the culture o wives and female slaves. Was there a difference between them? o Women taken as war booty and enslaved (Briseis, Chryseis) Their fates. o Husbands’ power: Zeus savagely beats his wife Hera with whips. Reminds her of her former punishments. o Menelaus makes a human sacrifice of his eldest daughter to obtain favorable winds for the fleet to sail to Troy. Another high ranking captured Trojan princess is sacrificed before the Greeks sail home. o But also the tender feelings expressed by Prince Hector and his wife Andromache before he goes into his fatal battle, and King Priam’s gentle treatment of Helen. Was the real reason for the sack of Troy to destroy a hated growing economic power or because Paris and Helen (wife of Menelaus) eloped and fled to Troy? The sack of Troy occurred within the time frame of disasters that Professor Cline identifies as he collapse of late Bronze Age culture. Heroes and Gods – their spiteful and quixotic behaviours remained the cornerstone of Greek culture for many centuries.

For a good summary of the narrative of

The Iliad Classical Literature site – Homer – The Iliad. Narrative The Iliad The life of Helen of Troy Helen of Troy The Iliad in full Stephen Mitchell translation in free verse. It captures the immediacy of the actions. Stephen Mitchell, The Iliad, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, Great Britain, 2011 Discussion: Lots of epic poems were created and recited by bards about the Trojan War. The Iliad is one that has survived. It relates just ten days towards the end of the ten year siege of Troy, describing the consequences of the quarrel between Achilles – a hero and King Agamemnon of Mycenae the leader of the Greek forces. Agamemnon’s brother, Menelaus of Sparta, had married Helen who eloped with Paris, a prince of Troy. All Greek city-states were obliged by a previous vow to uphold the marriage of Menelaus and Helen, and so were recruited by Agamemnon to sail to Troy to recover her. Consequences of Paris meeting the three goddesses Hera, Athena and Aphrodite . War and sex are at the heart of many incidents related by Homer. Consequences of Achilles and Agamemnon‘s quarrel about the possession of Briseis, a princess taken captive as war booty after the sack of a city raided on the way to Troy. Twists of fate: Hector’s successful raid on the Greek camp; death of Patroclus - Achilles friend; single combat between Hector and Achilles; desecration of Hectors body; King Priam’s brave visit to the Greek camp to reclaim Hector’s body, Hector’s funeral and the ten day truce. The Iliad ends there. Homer does not describe the fall of Troy but questions whether the carnage of war is justified. This marks the end of the Age of Heroes in Greece as the city -states then fall into the dark ages before beginning to recover in 500 BC. Homer also sympathises with Helen and King Priam of Troy. Regret, bravery and unconscionable manipulation by the gods have played a major role in the outcomes of this siege. Additional Reading or Viewing/Listening Want to know more? Here are some options:

Video Presentations:

What is Killing Western Civilization? Speakers Douglas Murray, Yaron Brook, chaired by Claire Fox. Public Discussion organized by The Academy of Ideas, London, 2016. Go to visual Murray and Brook Western Civ. visual 1hr 42 mins. Discussion centers on the decline of Western Civilization today. The Year Civilization Collapsed , Dr Eric Cline, Professor of Classics and Anthropology at George Washington University, Go to visual Prof Cline Geo Washington Uni Professor Cline discusses the collapse of Late Bronze Age Civilization in the Mediterranean. This is the period in which the Iliad is set. 1 Hr 10 mins.

Pod Casts [audio]

There has been a lot of discussion and debates on ABC (Australian Broadcasting Commission) radio in 2018. Download the Listen App. Go to Paul Barclay’s program Big Ideas and catch up on some of the divergent views about Western Civilization. Most are 54 mins. Here are just a few: Is Democracy in Decline? Global perspective from three lecturers from Universities of La Trobe, Sydney, Melbourne. 27th November 2018 Free Speech in Civil Society and on Campus, John Howard, former conservative prime minister of Australia. 8th October 2018. Are Western Values under Siege? Discussion from the Byron Writers Festival from three authors Clive Hamilton public commentator, Professor Gillian Triggs former president of the Australian Human Rights Commission and Anna Clarke - historian. 27th September 2018 The Rise of the alt-right. American David Neiwert looks at this in the USA.17th September 2018 Australian Politics: a Review. Chris Uhlmann, Canberra political reporter for the ABC, 15th August 2018 Re-imagining Australia, Hugh MacKay – psychologist , journalist etc. 23rd July 2018. Steven Pinker promotes Enlightenment Values, Harvard professor and author, 3rd July 2018.

Books/ Articles

Stephen Mitchell, The Iliad, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, Great Britain, 2011. For a translation by a woman try Rosemary Sutcliffe, The Iliad, reissued 2014. Is there a difference in emphasis between these two translations? Stephan Fry, The Greek Myths Retold, Penguin, UK, 2017
Session 1
1
1
australian colonial history
meg dillon
© Meg Dillon 2008
Australian Colonial History
Western Civilisation
Our course description outlines the traditional way many believe that Western Culture has evolved over the past 2500 years. But why pick these five main cultures or movements? Is this study too arcane and unrelated to our modern world? Have most of us forgotten or never known about these contributions to our society? In Australia at the moment the Ramsey Trust * , a private philanthropic trust, is trying to introduce a detailed study of these traditions into several Australian universities. The study would consist of the ideas, philosophies and literature of these cultures and may make deductions about what we may have borrowed from them. Their aim, we assume, is to sharpen our appreciation of the sets of values we have borrowed.

Ask Yourself

1. Are these the values that define us? – or is something else starting to happen to Western Culture? 2. Have we reached the end of Western Culture? After all, all other great traditions have emerged, consolidated and then declined. Why won’t we? Or; 3. Is our culture starting to move in a new direction? It has made dynamic changes of direction before. And constantly shifted and refined its values to accommodate new challenges. Is this a watershed shift similar in dimensions to those that mark the differences between the five periods? For example the changes between the Renaissance culture and the Reformation are extreme. 4. What are these new directions and why have they come about? 5. Maybe it’s something else all together? These are not easy questions to answer but I hope as we proceed to we will gain some insights into some of the values we have embraced, particularly over the last 200 years and the position we now occupy in the twenty first century.

Lets look at how two public comment-

ators have explored this issue.

Douglas Murray, a columnist for the Spectator, and Yaron Brook, a former Execative Director for the Ayn Rand Institute discuss the topic ‘What is killing Western Civilisation?’ hosted by Claire Fox, an academic who identifies as a Hegelian and Marxist. This public discussion in London in 2016 was hosted by the Academy of Ideas, an Ayn Rand Foundation that both promotes its own ideas and invites public discussion. Brook, a disciple of the Foundation, takes the traditional view and Murray discusses his more nuanced ideas to be found in his book The Strange Death of Europe. Youtube video: Murray and Brook Western Civilisation

Brook argues that:

A set of ideas rooted in Greek philosophy shaped Western Europe. Its fundamental idea was a respect for ‘reason’ as the root of knowledge. It came under attack when the enlightenment secularized religion , introducing instead the cult of the individual. It was further eroded by nineteenth century German philosophers, Kant, Hegel and Marx. In the twentieth century the French philosophy of post- modernism created further declines by arguing, amongst other things, that each idea was as good as any other; and that ‘Reason’ was an illusory concept. Brook argues that Western Civilization has never been surpassed by better ideas, a richer life or better conditions.

Murray argues that:

The West has changed significantly because different people now inhabit it due to large-scale migration. The concept of ‘Us’ may have run out. We no longer have confidence in our ideas and actions. Two world wars in the twentieth century have destroyed the idea that we are ‘reasonable’ people. 17 million civilians and soldiers filled in World War One; between 40 and 100 million in World War Two. We have filled the void with materialism, which has corrupted us. But maybe, our fear of our culture’s mortality may be a key idea that reshapes us and keeps us continuing. Explain their use of full versions of some of the DVD material that is hyperlinked. Check who is familiar with this strategy. Discuss the use of their smart phones in the sessions to get additional information and to obtain relevant podcasts from ABC Radio. Get Terry to explain any technical problems they may have. Pause for questions and comments.

It all started with the Greeks

Why ancient Greece? Why not the Myceneans of Crete? Or the Medes and Persian empires? Or Ancient Egypt? Brief discussion of the relative importance of these three Mediterranean cultures. The Greeks superceded them and developed different models of political, social and economic power; the independent city- state and colonies. First we will take a brief look at these Mediterranean cultures and their demise. For it is from this early period around 1000 BC that the Greeks drew their myths of gods and heros, when the Greek world consisted of insignificant villages. These events and ideas were forged by Homer into the two great classics of Greek culture, that we still today read as ‘The Iliad and ‘The Odyssey’. View: Professor Eric Cline, ‘The Year Civilization Collapsed’

Cline argues that

The late bronze age Mediterranean cultures declined owing to a concurrence of at least three reasons. o A 300 year drought occurred which created famines. It lasted from approximately 1250 BC to 950 BC. It was mentioned in many surviving texts eg 1185 BC in Syria and also the Hittites in Turkey recorded it. It appeared to ravage the entire area affecting all Mediterranean cultures. Clay tablet evidence. o Increases war activities in the area. Evidence from arrowheads in excavated bodies from this period. Israel (Jerico?) destroyed and burnt by invaders in 1250 – 1200 BC. Archealogical evidence from digs. Also Ugart destroyed – burnt mud bricks. o Zone had a lot of seismic activity between 1225 – 1175 BC when a series of earthquakes destroyed a number of key sites eg Mycene built on fault lines. Both earthquake and tidal wave bodies excavated. Troy 6 suffered same fate from earthquake. Evidence archaeological dig. Eight or nine civilizations flourished round the Mediterranean and had strong trading interactions with each other. Earthquakes were prominent in area round 1170 BC. So droughts, famines, earthquakes, invaders , rebellions were all stressors that caused the late Bronze Age cultures to fall. Also the important consequences followed: o Central administrations disappeared o Elites disappeared o Centralized economies disappeared o Settlement shifted and populations declined. It only took about 200 years for these interlinked disasters to happen between 1200 – 1000 BC. The year 1177 BC was the watershed of this process. Dark ages followed and from these emerged the romantic stories including the oral of Homer, a reputed Greek poet, who was an amalgam of many versions of the myths about gods and heros that were first recorded about 800 BC. Cline argues these were memories of a supposed ‘golden age’ when prosperity reigned. Homer’s works The Iliad and The Odyssey became foundation texts of early Greek culture and were still revered 600 years later. We have inherited them too and they offer us interesting insights into early Greek culture and psychology.

The Iliad as a marker of Early Greek

culture

While these texts were studied and translated by prominent scholars at Oxford and Cambridge (England) in the nineteenth century, they revered the heroism and cunning of the main protagonists in these texts. Today in the twenty first century we make a more nuanced reading of them and use them to deduce such information as the relative power of the various city-states that united under King Agamemnon of Mycenae to lay siege to Troy the position of women in the culture o wives and female slaves. Was there a difference between them? o Women taken as war booty and enslaved (Briseis, Chryseis) Their fates. o Husbands’ power: Zeus savagely beats his wife Hera with whips. Reminds her of her former punishments. o Menelaus makes a human sacrifice of his eldest daughter to obtain favorable winds for the fleet to sail to Troy. Another high ranking captured Trojan princess is sacrificed before the Greeks sail home. o But also the tender feelings expressed by Prince Hector and his wife Andromache before he goes into his fatal battle, and King Priam’s gentle treatment of Helen. Was the real reason for the sack of Troy to destroy a hated growing economic power or because Paris and Helen (wife of Menelaus) eloped and fled to Troy? The sack of Troy occurred within the time frame of disasters that Professor Cline identifies as he collapse of late Bronze Age culture. Heroes and Gods – their spiteful and quixotic behaviours remained the cornerstone of Greek culture for many centuries.

For a good summary of the narrative of

The Iliad Classical Literature site – Homer – The Iliad. Narrative The Iliad The life of Helen of Troy Helen of Troy The Iliad in full Stephen Mitchell translation in free verse. It captures the immediacy of the actions. Stephen Mitchell, The Iliad, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, Great Britain, 2011 Discussion: Lots of epic poems were created and recited by bards about the Trojan War. The Iliad is one that has survived. It relates just ten days towards the end of the ten year siege of Troy, describing the consequences of the quarrel between Achilles – a hero and King Agamemnon of Mycenae the leader of the Greek forces. Agamemnon’s brother, Menelaus of Sparta, had married Helen who eloped with Paris, a prince of Troy. All Greek city-states were obliged by a previous vow to uphold the marriage of Menelaus and Helen, and so were recruited by Agamemnon to sail to Troy to recover her. Consequences of Paris meeting the three goddesses Hera, Athena and Aphrodite . War and sex are at the heart of many incidents related by Homer. Consequences of Achilles and Agamemnon‘s quarrel about the possession of Briseis, a princess taken captive as war booty after the sack of a city raided on the way to Troy. Twists of fate: Hector’s successful raid on the Greek camp; death of Patroclus - Achilles friend; single combat between Hector and Achilles; desecration of Hectors body; King Priam’s brave visit to the Greek camp to reclaim Hector’s body, Hector’s funeral and the ten day truce. The Iliad ends there. Homer does not describe the fall of Troy but questions whether the carnage of war is justified. This marks the end of the Age of Heroes in Greece as the city -states then fall into the dark ages before beginning to recover in 500 BC. Homer also sympathises with Helen and King Priam of Troy. Regret, bravery and unconscionable manipulation by the gods have played a major role in the outcomes of this siege. Additional Reading or Viewing/Listening Want to know more? Here are some options:

Video Presentations:

What is Killing Western Civilization? Speakers Douglas Murray, Yaron Brook, chaired by Claire Fox. Public Discussion organized by The Academy of Ideas, London, 2016. Go to visual Murray and Brook Western Civ. visual 1hr 42 mins. Discussion centers on the decline of Western Civilization today. The Year Civilization Collapsed , Dr Eric Cline, Professor of Classics and Anthropology at George Washington University, Go to visual Prof Cline Geo Washington Uni Professor Cline discusses the collapse of Late Bronze Age Civilization in the Mediterranean. This is the period in which the Iliad is set. 1 Hr 10 mins.

Pod Casts [audio]

There has been a lot of discussion and debates on ABC (Australian Broadcasting Commission) radio in 2018. Download the Listen App. Go to Paul Barclay’s program Big Ideas and catch up on some of the divergent views about Western Civilization. Most are 54 mins. Here are just a few: Is Democracy in Decline? Global perspective from three lecturers from Universities of La Trobe, Sydney, Melbourne. 27th November 2018 Free Speech in Civil Society and on Campus, John Howard, former conservative prime minister of Australia. 8th October 2018. Are Western Values under Siege? Discussion from the Byron Writers Festival from three authors Clive Hamilton public commentator, Professor Gillian Triggs former president of the Australian Human Rights Commission and Anna Clarke - historian. 27th September 2018 The Rise of the alt-right. American David Neiwert looks at this in the USA.17th September 2018 Australian Politics: a Review. Chris Uhlmann, Canberra political reporter for the ABC, 15th August 2018 Re-imagining Australia, Hugh MacKay – psychologist , journalist etc. 23rd July 2018. Steven Pinker promotes Enlightenment Values, Harvard professor and author, 3rd July 2018.

Books/ Articles

Stephen Mitchell, The Iliad, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, Great Britain, 2011. For a translation by a woman try Rosemary Sutcliffe, The Iliad, reissued 2014. Is there a difference in emphasis between these two translations? Stephan Fry, The Greek Myths Retold, Penguin, UK, 2017
Session 1
Presenter Meg Dillon