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Caligula

   2013    History
Two thousand years ago one of history's most notorious individuals was born. Professor Mary Beard embarks on an investigative journey to explore the life and times of Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus - better known to us as Caligula. Caligula has now become known as Rome's most capricious tyrant, and the stories told about him are some of the most extraordinary told about any Roman emperor. He was said to have made his horse a consul, proclaimed himself a living God, and indulged in scandalous orgies - even with his own three sisters - and that's before you mention building vast bridges across land and sea, prostituting senators' wives and killing half the Roman elite seemingly on a whim. All that in just four short years in power before a violent and speedy assassination in a back alley of his own palace at just 28-years-old." But how much of his story is true? Travelling across the Roman world - from Germany and Capri in the bay of Naples to the astonishing luxury of his life in imperial Rome - Mary attempts to peel away the myths. Some stories are difficult to get to the bottom of as they were written by hacks long after his death, but there is plenty of surviving evidence where the 'real' Caligula can be glimpsed. Such as in the extraordinary luxury of his private yachts outside Rome; in the designs he chose for his coins when he became Emperor; in an eye-witness account of Caligula's withering humour written in 41AD; the trial documents covering the mysterious death of his father when he was just seven-years-old; and even in a record of his imperial slaves - from the palace spy to his personal trainer. Piecing together the evidence, Mary puts Caligula back into the context of his times to reveal an astonishing story of murder, intrigue and dynastic family power. Above all, she explains why Caligula has ended up with such a seemingly unredeemable reputation. In the process, she reveals a more intriguing portrait of not just the monster, but the man.

Caravaggio

   2006    Art
Caravaggio's approach to painting was unconventional. He avoided the standard method of making copies of old sculptures and instead took the more direct approach of painting directly onto canvas without drawing first. He also used people from the street as his models. His dramatic painting was enhanced with intense and theatrical lighting. Caravaggio's fate was sealed when he killed a man in a duel in 1606. He fled to Naples where he attempted to paint his way out of trouble, he became a Knight, but was then imprisoned in Malta and then finally moved to Sicily. He was pardoned for murder in 1610, but died of a fever when attempting to return to Rome. For me the power of Caravaggio's art is the power of truth, not least the truth about ourselves. If we are ever to hope for redemption we have to start from the recognition that the Goliath competes with the David in all of us."
Series: Power of Art

Bernini

   2006    Art
Born in Naples, Bernini was an exceptional talent from an early age and went on to dominate the art world of 17th century Rome. His work epitomised the Baroque style and his sculpture, church interiors and exteriors and town planning could be seen everywhere. Bernini worked under successive Popes; Pope Gregory XV made him a knight and Pope Urban VIII made him as his best friend. He was revered in his time until a jealous rage caused him to have the face of his mistress slashed after discovering her romance with his brother. His reputation fell further after his bell towers for the Cathedral of St Peter's started cracking in 1641. He redeemed himself and kick started his career again with what is arguably his most famous work, The Ecstasy of St Theresa, in 1652.
Series: Power of Art
Seven Ages of Rock
Seven Ages of Rock

   2007    Art
Through the Wormhole
Through the Wormhole

   2011    Science
Through the Wormhole Season 7
Through the Wormhole Season 7

   2016    Culture
A History of Christianity
A History of Christianity

   2011    History
The Crusades
The Crusades

   2012    History
Catalyst
Catalyst

   2017    Science
Through the Wormhole Season 8
Through the Wormhole Season 8

   2017    Science