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Documentaries

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Documentaries

Postby paulusnb » Sat Oct 15, 2011 11:42 am

Salvete omnes,

I performed a forum search, but I did not find anything. I was wondering if we could get a list of good documentaries, or simply your favorite one, on the ancient world. I am always looking for something for my classes. I will start it off. I think Roman City is one of the best I have seen. Granted, I use this for a classroom, so my goals are a little different.
When a true genius appears, you can know him by this sign: that all the dunces are in a confederacy against him. ~Swift
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Re: Documentaries

Postby beerclark » Mon Oct 17, 2011 2:10 am

I wish I could tell you about a good TV or Movie documentary, but I only know what I happen to find on a learning channel when I have time to watch TV.

I will say that for podcasts, I have found 2 that I think are great. They are both by amateurs but I think their passion and their respect for history comes out in the podcasts. They both make mistakes and acknowledge them [and forget pronunciations]. Yet they obviously put in time and effort into their work and I think it shows.

1) The History of Rome: by Michael Duncan - A chronological history of the Roman Republic/Empire. It is based on the rulers [emporers] through the ages with the occasional episode on the culture. There is Mr Duncan's sense of humor inserted along with the occasional veiled joke. He also is very clear on his sources, especially on questionable or disputed parts of Roman history.
2) Ancient Rome Refocused: by Rob Cain - This is more giving a perspective of Rome to modern times. Not so much to compare and contrast so much as trying to tie the two together to make the listener understand those times then hitting them with the reality of the ancient times. One episode was specifically about someone going back in time to ancient Rome. Then questioning the listener as to their current morality & hygiene to what it would take to just survive back then.

I know its not exactly what you asked about but I thought it might be worth mentioning these to you.

You mentioned "Roman City". Can you provide a link or more info? I did a basic search and got several things and IMDB.com didn't seem to have it.
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Re: Documentaries

Postby cb » Mon Oct 17, 2011 1:18 pm

hi, there are lots of good docos on the classics; i won't give exact titles but you should be able to find them online; i'm listing them as they come to mind, so the ones at the top of the list are my most preferred; i have others but these are the ones i've shown/lent to other people who've really liked them. my view is that although a doco can't replace a more detailed book it shouldn't be disparaged by people studying the classics as it can give you the mental framework and background to make getting through a book on the topic much more likely rather than sitting endlessly on the bookshelf with a bookmark permanently parked in between pgs 2 and 3, and it can also help showto people who aren't obsessed by the classics some of the things that interest you:

(a) documentaries by michael wood, described by someone as "the thinking woman's crumpet": see (1) his history of the trojan war (about 6 episodes), which is also a history of archaeology, oral poetry, the homeric qn, etc. – and (2) in the footsteps of alexander the great, where he travels the journey taken by alexander and discovers lots of things that an armchair historian might not have realised without seeing the geography and people on the way.

(b) documentaries by terry jones – my favourites are (1) one called something like hidden history of rome, where he goes to pompeii and herculaneum and tries to uncover the life of an ordinary non-aristocratic person and (2) the barbarians series (4 episodes) where he pushes a message that rome's superiority over its conquered neighbours was roman propaganda rather than fact, and he looks at four "barbarian" peoples to show how unbarbaric they were

(c) something that was called (at least in australia) the empires series – the classics ones (both worth seeing) are (1) fifth century greece narrated by liam neeson (covers in 3 episodes, themistocles and the persian wars, pericles and the peloponnesian wars, socrates and other things like tragedy in fifth century athens) – although one of my friends didn't like this one so much, it's one of the rare ones on greece so definitely recommended – and (2) one starting from augustus and talking a bit about ovid's life in particular which is great, narrated by sigourney weaver. (incidentally the "medici: godfathers of the renaissance" doco in this empires series is one of the docos that lots of my friends like the most of all the docos they've seen)

(d) there is one (don't know its name) but it is really good, a bbc doco on 6 key romans – caesar, nero, the gracchi (my favourite episode) etc.

(e) in the same kind of style there is an about movie-length dramatised doco reconstruction of hannibal's life done by the BBC in about 2006 with alexander siddig

(f) watch the HBO rome series on DVD and turn on the historical notes.

(g) buy copies of the DVDs for books 1 and 2 of the cambridge latin series – these are full of short and really good documentaries on all aspects of roman life.

(h) there is one called something like rome, the power and the glory. it is very US-comparison focused but from memory it goes all the way through from the beginnings to the end of the roman empire. definitely worth seeing.

(i) perhaps not really a documentary, but see the DVD reconstructed performance in latin of cicero's pro archia by jon hall, in between the sections of the speech he gives background explanations on rhetoric

(j) before you go to pompeii or herculaneum have a quick watch of this Yale lecture on the layout of roman houses: http://academicearth.org/lectures/pompe ... chitecture

(k) I bought here in paris a documentary in french where several young champion or up-and-coming european athletes reconstructed competing in the ancient olympic games, including living conditions etc., this is worth watching although i don't know if it's been dubbed in english or with subtitles etc.

cheers, chad :)
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Re: Documentaries

Postby beerclark » Thu Oct 20, 2011 9:30 pm

Nice list!

I saw the Rome series by HBO and thought it was fantastic. It seemed to capture the idea of living back then but there were specific inaccuracies. Nothing too bad though.

But I didn't know about the DVD with historical notes! I'll have to get those and watch it again now.
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Re: Documentaries

Postby paulusnb » Wed Jan 25, 2012 4:18 pm

cb wrote:(f) watch the HBO rome series on DVD and turn on the historical notes.


Whoa! Do you know what would happen to me if I watched that series in my Middle School classes? :shock: The Today Show would be interviewing my mother and asking her at what point she knew things were just not right. :lol:
When a true genius appears, you can know him by this sign: that all the dunces are in a confederacy against him. ~Swift
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Re: Documentaries

Postby paulusnb » Wed Jan 25, 2012 4:27 pm

beerclark wrote:I saw the Rome series by HBO and thought it was fantastic. It seemed to capture the idea of living back then but there were specific inaccuracies. Nothing too bad though.


I watched the show when I was young, dumb and full of :wink: , and I really liked it. But now the sober me is tired of these sexy MTV re-imaginings of the ancient world. A young person might think, after watching Rome or Tudors or Borgia, that pederasty and threesomes are the reason the world turns. Granted, you can read some raunchy stuff about the Romans, but I just do not know how Julius Caesar had the time to rule the world if he were always hiding away with little boys in broom closets. I barely have time to make the beast with two backs, and I have the help of modern technology. :lol:

And just to be clear, I mean make the beast with two backs with my wife, a grown woman. The juxtaposition of Ceasar's pederasty and my sex life disturbs me a little. :shock:
When a true genius appears, you can know him by this sign: that all the dunces are in a confederacy against him. ~Swift
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Re: Documentaries

Postby serrol » Thu Mar 15, 2012 4:35 am

If you have History and Bio channel, they regularly show documentaries about Roman cities and culture which will really be great if you are looking for things like that.

Though you can also check and watch them on demand on iTunes, I guess.

But if you are not willing to spend anything on it, I guess that looking for online sources will already work to your advantage here.
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