SYNOPSIS: In this series Professor Bettany Hughes embarks on a voyage of discovery, travelling across the Mediterranean and Middle East to reveal the true stories of three of the most iconic Greek Gods and Goddesses; Venus, Bacchus and Mars. In episode 1 Bettany explains how the mythological figure of Venus is far more than just an excuse for sensual nudity and chocolate box romance. Bettany explores Venus’ eastern origins in Jordan, uncovers seldom seen prehistoric depictions of the goddess in Cyprus, and learns how the might of Rome was tied directly to Venus. Through ancient art, evocative myth, archaeological revelation and philosophical explorations Bettany reveals how this immortal goddess endures in the 21st century, and what her story reveals about what matters to us as humans. In episode two, Bettany goes on an international search for Bacchus, the ancient God of wine, revelry and excess. On the hunt to identify and define ‘ecstasy’, we travel the globe to discover his origins, his presence in the modern world and explore how ‘losing oneself’ played a vital role in the development of civilisation. In episode three, she investigates the enduring relationship between warfare and worship, by following the trail through time of the ancient god of war, Mars. Beginning in Carthage, site of one of the most significant and bloodiest victories in the history of the Roman Empire, she explores the vital role of Mars in Rome’s Imperial expansion. We follow the story of Mars from the earliest known evidence of human warfare – a 13,000-year-old graveyard in which many of the bodies showed signs of violent deaths, right through Christianity, the Crusades to the modern day and two World Wars. Ultimately, Bettany considers how Mars’ influence has been sustained and asks whether the benefits of war still outweigh the horrors.
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