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Radio Recordings

In Our Time - Roman Britain

Melvyn Bragg
About 2000 years ago, Tacitus noted that “the climate is wretched”, Herodian said, “the atmosphere in the country is always gloomy”, Dio said “they live in tents unclothed and unshod, and share their women” and the historian Strabo said on no account should the Romans make it part of the Empire because it will never pay its way. But invade they did, and Britain became part of the Roman Empire for almost four hundred years But what brought Romans to Britain and what made them stay? Did they prove the commentators wrong and make Britain amount to something in the Empire? Did the Romans come and go without much trace, or do those four centuries still colour our national life and character today?
Classical World

In Our Time - The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

Melvyn Bragg
Edward Gibbon wrote of the decline of the Roman Empire, "While that great body was invaded by open violence, or undermined by slow decay, a pure and humble religion gently insinuated itself into the minds of men, grew up in silence and obscurity, derived new vigour from opposition, and finally erected the triumphant banner of the cross on the ruins of the Capitol." But how far is the growth of Christianity implicated in the destruction of the great culture of Rome? How critical were the bawdy incursions of the Ostrogoths, the Visigoths and the Vandals to the fall of the Roman Empire? Should we even be talking in terms of blame and decline at all? St Augustine wrote about the fall of the Roman Empire in the fifth century AD, Edward Gibbon famously tackled it in the eighteenth and it is a question that preoccupies us today.
Classical World

In Our Time - The Roman Republic

Melvyn Bragg
Around 550BC, Lucretia, the daughter of an aristocrat, was raped by the son of Tarquin, the king of Rome. Lucretia told her family what had happened to her and then, in front of them, killed herself from shame. The Roman historian Livy describes what was believed to have happened next: "Brutus, while the others were absorbed in grief; drew out the knife from Lucretia's wound, and holding it up, dripping with gore, exclaimed, "By this blood, most chaste until a prince wronged it, I swear, and I take you, gods, to witness, that I will pursue Lucius Tarquinius Superbus and his wicked wife and all his children, with sword, with fire, aye with whatsoever violence I may; and that I will suffer neither them nor any other to be king in Rome!". The King was duly expelled from the city and the Roman Republic was founded and lasted for 500 years. But in what form did this republic evolve, what were its values and ideals and what ultimately caused the end of the world’s first true experiment in constitutional government?
Classical World

Special Interest

The Penguin Atlas of World History: From Prehistory to the Eve of the French Revolution v.1: From Prehistory to the Eve of the French Revolution Vol 1

Hermann Kinder, Werner Hilgemann , Penguin Books Ltd , 1995
This is the first volume of the hugely successful PENGUIN ATLAS OF WORLD HISTORY, which covers events from the beginning of world history to the eve of the French Revolution. A wide-ranging, chronological summary of the main cultural, scientific, religious and political events of the period is accompanied by detailed maps that clarify complex historical situations, and make this an essential reference book for students and for the home.
Classical World

The Seven Wonders of The World

John Romer & Elizabeth Romer , Michael O'Mara Books Ltd , 1995
The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World symbolise all that was magnificent and mysterious in the pre-Christian West. In this book, archaeologists John and Elizabeth Romer create images of these great wonders using the words of ancient writers and modern archaelogical techniques
Classical World

TV Documentaries






Ancient Worlds - Come Together

Channel 4
Archaeologist and historian Richard Miles explores the roots of one of the most profound innovations in the human story - civilisation - in the first episode of an epic series that runs from the creation of the first cities in Mesopotamia some 6,000 years ago, to the decline and fall of the Roman Empire.
Classical World

Ancient Worlds - Return of the King

BBC 2
n Richard Miles\'s epic story of civilization, there have been plenty of examples of the great men of history, but none came close to the legend of Alexander of Macedon, known to us as \'the Great\'. Uniting the fractious Greek city-states, he led them on a crusade against the old enemy, Persia, and in little more than a decade created an empire that stretched from Egypt in the west to Afghanistan in the east.
Classical World

Ancient Worlds - The Age of Iron

Channel 4
Archaeologist and historian Richard Miles looks at the winners, losers and survivors of the great Bronze Age collapse, a regional catastrophe that wiped out the hard-won achievements of civilisation in the eastern Mediterranean about 3,000 years ago. In the new age of iron, civilisation would re-emerge, tempered in the flames of conflict, tougher and more resilient than ever before.
Classical World