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Myth and Religion (J199/11)

The Greek Myths

[Source: BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time]

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Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Greek myths from Achilles to Zeus. Are you a touch narcissistic? Do you have the body of an Adonis? Are you willing to undertake Herculean tasks or Promethean ventures? Perhaps you have an Oedipus complex? If you answer to any or perhaps all of these you owe something to the Greek myths, a collection of weird and wonderful stories that, like Penelope’s shroud or the needlework of Arachne, were constantly woven and unpicked across centuries of Greek and Roman civilisation. The myths have a cast of thousands including mighty Zeus, Jason and the Argonauts, wily Odysseus, beautiful Aphrodite and Cerberus, the three-headed dog. They are funny, shocking, quirky and epic and have retained their power and their wisdom from the ancient world to the modern. With Nick Lowe, Senior Lecturer in Classics at Royal Holloway, University of London; Richard Buxton, Professor of Greek Language and Literature at the University of Bristol; Mary Beard, Professor of Classics at Cambridge University

The Trojan War

[Source: BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time]

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Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the Trojan War, one of the best known events of Greek mythology. According to the traditional version of the story, the war began when a Trojan prince, Paris, eloped with the Spartan queen Helen. A Greek army besieged Troy for ten years before the city was finally overrun and destroyed. Some of the most familiar names of Greek mythology are associated with the war, including Achilles and Hector, Odysseus and Helen of Troy - and it has also given us the story of the Trojan Horse.The war is the backdrop for Homer's epic poem The Iliad, and features in many other works from classical antiquity. For centuries it was assumed to be a mythical event. But in the nineteenth century a series of archaeological discoveries provided startling evidence that Troy might really have existed, leading some scholars to conclude that there could even be some truth behind the myth. So does the Trojan War story have any basis in fact? And why has it proved such an enduring legend?With:Edith HallProfessor of Classics at King's College LondonEllen AdamsLecturer in Classical Art and Archaeology at King's College LondonSusan SherrattLecturer in Archaeology at the University of SheffieldProducer: Thomas Morris.

The Iliad

[Source: BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time]

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Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the great epic poem attributed to Homer, telling the story of an intense episode in the Trojan War. It is framed by the wrath of the Greek hero Achilles, insulted by his leader Agamemnon and withdrawing from the battle that continued to rage, only returning when his close friend Patroclus is killed by the Trojan hero Hector. Achilles turns his anger from Agamemnon to Hector and the fated destruction of Troy comes ever closer. With Edith Hall, Professor of Classics at King's College London; Barbara Graziosi, Professor of Classics at Princeton University; and Paul Cartledge, A.G. Leventis Senior Research Fellow and Emeritus Professor of Greek Culture at Clare College, Cambridge.

The Odyssey

[Source: BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time]

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Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss The Odyssey by Homer, often claimed as the great founding work of Western Literature. It's an epic that has entertained its audience for nearly three thousand years: It has shipwrecks, Cyclops, brave heroes and seductive sex goddesses. But it’s also got revenge, true love and existential angst. The story follows on from Homer's Iliad, and tells of the Greek hero Odysseus and his long attempt to get home to Ithaca after the Trojan War. Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss what has given the Odyssey such a fundamental position in the history of western ideas, what are the meanings behind the trials and tribulations that befall Odysseus and how the Odyssey was composed and by whom. With Simon Goldhill, Professor of Greek at King's College, Cambridge; Edith Hall, Leverhulme Professor of Greek Cultural History at Durham University; Oliver Taplin, Classics Scholar and Translator at Oxford University.

Greek Gods and Goddesses

A brief overview of Greek Gods and Goddesses can be found here [Source: The British Museum]

The Aeneid

[Source: BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time]

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Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss 'The Aeneid'. Out of the tragedy and destruction of the Trojan wars came a man heading West, his father on his back and his small son holding his hand. This isn't Odysseus, it's Aeneas and in that vision Virgil gives an image of the very first Romans of the Empire.Virgil's Aeneid was the great epic poem that formed a founding narrative of Rome. It made such an impact on its audience that it soon became a standard text in all schools and wiped away the myths that preceded it. It was written in Augustus' reign at the start of the Imperial era and has been called an apologia for Roman domination; it has also been called the greatest work of literature ever written.How much was Virgil's poem influenced by the extraordinary times in which it was written? How does it transcend the political pressures of Imperial patronage and what are the qualities that make it such a universal work?With Edith Hall, Leverhulme Professor of Greek Cultural History, Durham University; Philip Hardie, Corpus Christi Professor of Latin at the University of Oxford; Catharine Edwards, Senior Lecturer in Classics and Ancient History, Birkbeck College, University of London.

Romulus and Remus

[Source: BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time]

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Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss Romulus and Remus, the central figures of the foundation myth of Rome. According to tradition, the twins were abandoned by their parents as babies, but were saved by a she-wolf who found and nursed them. Romulus killed his brother after a vicious quarrel, and went on to found a city, which was named after him.

The myth has been at the core of Roman identity since the 1st century AD, although the details vary in different versions of the story. For many Roman writers, the story embodied the ethos and institutions of their civilisation. The image of the she-wolf suckling the divinely fathered twins remains a potent icon of the city even today. With Mary Beard, Professor of Classics at the University of Cambridge; Peter Wiseman, Emeritus Professor of Classics and Ancient History at the University of Exeter; and Tim Cornell, Emeritus Professor of Ancient History at the University of Manchester.

Metamorphosis

[Source: BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time]

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Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Roman poet Ovid and explore the theme of metamorphosis from the transformation of Narcissus to the bug of Kafka’s story, and beyond. Ovid wrote at the beginning of The Metamorphoses - in Ted Hughes’ wonderful version - “now I am ready to tell how bodies are changed/Into different bodies/I summon the supernatural beings/who first contrived/The transmogrifications/In the stuff of life./You did it for your own amusement./Descend again, be pleased to reanimate/this revival of those marvels.”And descend they did: The metamorphoses is an extraordinarily wide sweep through the teeming, changing world of Roman and Greek mythology.The tales were immensely popular in their own day, they were an inspiration to Chaucer, Ovid was Shakespeare’s favourite poet, and two thousand years after they were written the stories of shape changing still seem relevant: Ted Hughes won the Whitbread Book of the Year with his translation of Tales from Ovid in 1997, and a new collection called Ovid Metamorphosed has garnered versions of the tales from authors and poets from all over the world.With A S Byatt, novelist and one of the contributors to Ovid Metamorphosed; Dr Catherine Bates, critic and Research Fellow, University of Warwick.

Ovid in Changing Times

[Source: BBC Radio 4 - Archive on 4]

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In the 2000 years since Ovid's final metamorphoses back into base matter, his masterpiece has inspired writers, composers, artists, doctors, scientists and all those who want change to pursue the idea of transformation both physical and metaphorical. In this Archive on Four, Tom Holland explores Ovid's pagan hymn to transformation and traces its echoes through our cultural and natural world.