Turn­ing points

BBC History Magazine - - Tv & Radio -

Eight Days that Made Rome DVD (Spirit En­ter­tain­ment Lim­ited, £24.99) The his­tory of Rome, ar­gues Bet­tany Hughes, was pro­foundly shaped in “sin­gle crit­i­cal mo­ments”. She’s talk­ing about mo­ments such as Han­ni­bal’s de­feat at the bat­tle of Zama in 202 BC, Julius Cae­sar’s de­ci­sion to cross the Ru­bi­con, and Con­stan­tine the Great’s bap­tism as a Chris­tian – a deathbed spir­i­tual dec­la­ra­tion with pro­found ef­fects.

In this se­ries, first shown on Chan­nel 5, Hughes uses these events – and as the title sug­gests, five other episodes – as start­ing points to tell the wider tale of how Ro­man civil­i­sa­tion de­vel­oped. As you might ex­pect, it’s a fre­quently gory story. Hughes ex­plores bat­tle­fields where no quar­ter was asked for or given – yet there’s also much here about Rome’s art and ar­chi­tec­ture and, re­flect­ing her abid­ing in­ter­est in the his­tory of ideas, its in­flu­ence even now on how we see the world. As a re­sult, Hughes cov­ers a lot of ground, but the se­ries never comes across as skimpy or sim­plis­tic. Rather, as the his­to­rian un­earths telling de­tails to high­light, it once again demon­strates her en­vi­able abil­ity to make the clas­si­cal world ac­ces­si­ble from the per­spec­tive of the 21st cen­tury.

Bet­tany Hughes tells the story of Rome via key events in its his­tory

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.