Skip to content

OU on the BBC: Ancient Greece: The greatest show on Earth: ARCHIVE

Updated Friday 7th February 2014

Join us on a journey to the ancient world and explore the heart of Athens: the theatre.

THIS PAGE HAS BEEN SUPERSEDED BY A MORE UP-TO-DATE PAGE. IT IS LEFT HERE FOR ARCHIVE PURPOSES. PLEASE SELECT THIS LINK TO SEE THE CURRENT ITEM.

Dr Michael Scott sitting on the steps of ancient Greek amphitheatre Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: BBC Dr Michael Scott

The series

This three-part series by Dr Michael Scott (academic and broadcaster in Ancient History and Archaeology) examines the extraordinary career of Athens in the ancient world through the prism of one of its most important and culturally crucial spaces: the theatre.

The episodes

In Episode 1, Dr Michael Scott journeys to Athens to explore how drama first began.  He discovers that from the very start it was about more than just entertainment – it was a reaction to real events, it was a driving force in history, and it was deeply connected to Athenian democracy. In fact, the story of theatre, is the story of Athens.

In Episode 2, Michael looks at the dramatic decline of Athens and the remarkable triumph and transformation of theatre. During the fourth century BCE, Athens would lose its Empire, its influence and even its democracy. But theatre, that most Athenian of inventions, would thrive, spreading throughout the Greek world and beyond and giving rise to a new kind of comedy, one so popular and prevalent that it is still at the heart of our comedy today.

In Episode 3, Michael examines the vital role played by the Romans in the preservation of Greek drama and in the history of theatre. He explores how the Romans absorbed Greek theatre and adapted it to their own, very Roman, ends, and looks at how this famous Empire provides one of the crucial connections between our modern drama and the great plays of the ancient Greeks.

 

For further information, take a look at our frequently asked questions which may give you the support you need.

Have a question?

Other content you may like

Was Alcibiades the Athenian Donald Trump? Creative commons image Icon Sailko under Creative Commons BY 4.0 license article icon

History & The Arts 

Was Alcibiades the Athenian Donald Trump?

A roistering, rabble-rousing politician from the birth of democracy bears comparison with the former host of The Celebrity Apprentice, suggests Robert Garland

Article

History & The Arts 

The Birth of Comedy

Take the topical satire of Have I Got News For You and mix thoroughly with the adolescent humour of The Inbetweeners, add in a healthy dose of Monty Python-esque absurdity and finish off with lashings of songs and dances. Then serve it all up to a baying crowd in an atmosphere more like a football match than a theatre stage. Welcome to the world of Aristophanes, ‘the father of comedy’. The rise of democracy in ancient Greece produced one of the greatest ever flowerings of culture and gave birth to history, philosophy, science … and ---- gags. Theatre first appeared in Athens 2,500 years ago to educate and entertain the growing audience of citizens. However Greek theatre wasn’t a quiet entertainment but a rowdy, competitive sport involving teams of performers battling each other for prizes.

Audio
1 hr 15 mins

History & The Arts 

Greek Theatre

What was it like to go to the theatre nearly 2500 years ago? Greek theatre has survived through the ages as a powerful and influential art form. This album introduces what early Greek theatres looked like and the kind of audience they attracted. Using the Theatre of Dionysus as a starting point, experts discuss the significance of attending the theatre as a civic occasion, associated with the political and cultural achievements of Athens. Through archaeology and analysis of contemporary art forms, such as decoration on pottery, a picture is built up of ancient Greek theatre. The album reveals how precious Greek texts have survived, and how Aeschylus’ tragedy 'Persians' has been interpreted in modern theatre. This material forms part of The Open University course A219 Exploring the classical world.

Audio
45 mins
My Shakespeare: The episodes Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Sky article icon

TV, Radio & Events 

My Shakespeare: The episodes

Find out more about the episodes that make up the Sky Arts series, My Shakespeare.

Article
Rough Science 3 New Zealand: Kathy Sykes' Diary: Shakers Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Production team article icon

TV, Radio & Events 

Rough Science 3 New Zealand: Kathy Sykes' Diary: Shakers

Kathy Sykes's diary about the challenge for the Shakers programme, from the BBC/OU series Rough Science 3

Article
OU on Sky Arts: My Shakespeare Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Sky article icon

TV, Radio & Events 

OU on Sky Arts: My Shakespeare

The series that highlights the stories that make the man from Stratford-upon-Avon the greatest writer who ever lived.

Article
Bang Goes The Theory 6: Episode 7 Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: BBC article icon

TV, Radio & Events 

Bang Goes The Theory 6: Episode 7

This week, Jem heads for his workshop to build a solution to traffic jams: a man-powered aeroplane

Article
The Secret History Of Our Streets - Portland Road Creative commons image Icon Derek Harper under CC-BY-SA licence under Creative-Commons license article icon

TV, Radio & Events 

The Secret History Of Our Streets - Portland Road

A street which sees the archetypes of the 1% living alongside those in the lowest income brackets of British society.

Article
Life Story: Growing Up Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: BBC/Tom Hugh-Jones article icon

TV, Radio & Events 

Life Story: Growing Up

On reaching adulthood animals strike out on their own to find their place in the world.

Article