When French historians of ancient Greece conquered the world
Australians continue to study the celebrated funeral oration attributed to Pericles at school and at university. Often the French are surprised to learn this. For them, Australia is simply a distant land with fierce bushfires and very strange animals. Yet studying ancient Greece in Australia dates back to the arrival of Europeans two centuries ago.
The first colonial leaders of my country feared that their civilization would be lost. Europe was very far away and most of their fellow colonists were convicted criminals. Consequently they saw it as an urgent task to inculcate everyone in the core values of the European Enlightenment. These leaders saw studying ancient Greece at school as an important way to achieve this.
The French are no less surprised to learn that an Australian has come to France to research ancient Greece. They understand why Australian philosophers...