Classics

Hay Player

Tom Holland and Paul Cartledge

The Greeks 1 - Herodotus

Hay Festival 2012, 
The C5th BC Father of History, who pioneered the systems of ‘inquiry’, holds a mirror up to our own concerns about East and West. Herodotus has an almost modern fascination with the variety of human culture.
 
The first of 13 sessions exploring the wonders of Ancient Greece, as part of our commitment to Britain's Olympic year.

Hay Player

Paul Cartledge, Bettany Hughes, Angela Hobbs and Tom Holland

The Greeks 2 - The Greek Idea

Hay Festival 2012, 
The classicists explore the idea of Greece - the aspirations and the concepts of civilisation, democracy, drama, virtue, victory, liberty and xenia, and discuss what the study of Classics has meant in the wider world.

Hay Player

Angela Hobbs and Paul Cartledge talk to Bettany Hughes

The Greeks 3 – Plato

Hay Festival 2012, 
The classicists consider the heft and influence of The Republic and The Symposium.

Hay Player

Bettany Hughes, Tom Holland, Tim Whitmarsh, Charlotte Higgins

The Greeks 4 - Sparta vs Athens

Hay Festival 2012, 
The classicists balloon-debate the strengths of the two superpower city States who fought the Peleponnesian War 431-404 BC - the artistic Athenian democracy and the military oligarchy in Sparta.

Hay Player

Lloyd Bowen, Paul O’Leary and Dafydd Elis Thomas join Huw Bowen

Heroes and Villains 5 - Politicians

Hay Festival 2012, 
Long in search of nationhood and identity, Wales has had more than its fair share of political heroes. But there have been villains, too, and those who’ve moved swiftly from heroes to zeroes. Who are they and what have they achieved?
 

Hay Player

Bettany Hughes, Tim Whitmarsh, Charlotte Higgins and Oliver Taplin

The Greeks 7 - Heroisation

Hay Festival 2012, 
The classicists examine the recounting of funeral games, athletic odes and Olympic trials in Homer, Hesiod, Pindar, Bacchylids and Euripides. What are athletes for?

Hay Player

Charlotte Higgins, Niall Livingstone, Fiona Macintosh and Oliver Taplin

The Greeks 9 - Drama

Hay Festival 2012, 
What do the surviving Greek tragedies and comedies, and the information we have about their performance and audiences, tell us about the Classical world?

Hay Player

Paul Cartledge

After Thermopylae

Hay Festival 2014, 

The Battle of Plataea in 479 BCE is one of world history’s unjustly neglected events. It decisively ended the threat of a Persian conquest of Greece. For the Spartans, the driving force behind the Greek victory, the battle was sweet vengeance for their defeat at Thermopylae the year before. Cartledge masterfully exposes the Athenian/Spartan rivalry that ‘rewrote the history books’.

Hay Player

Simon Armitage, Lily Cole, Nick Bagnall, Brendan O'Hea

The Last Days of Troy

Hay Festival 2014, 

The poet introduces readings from his new play, which premières at the Manchester Royal Exchange in May. He is joined by the production’s director, his Helen of Troy and his Patroclus. ‘The Iliad is tense and intriguing, with moments of great tragedy and breathtaking humility. Everything we have come to expect of the great myths.’

Simon Armitage, Lily Cole, Nick Bagnall, Brendan O'Hea

Hay Player

Tom Holland

Herodotus: The Histories

Hay Festival 2014, 

The classicist introduces his translation of the first work of history, a work that tells us much of what we know about the ancient world. Herodotus was an endlessly curious man, and gathered information about the world around him from as many people and places as he could investigate. Whether it was the pyramids of Egypt, the cannabis habit of the Scythians, the flora and fauna of Arabia or the table dancing of the Athenian aristocracy, he was fascinated by them all. His accounts of the great battles of Marathon and Thermopylae, of Salamis and Plataea, retain to this day a matchless epic quality.

Tom Holland

Hay Player

Michael Scott

Delphi: A History of the Center of the Ancient World

Hay Festival 2014, 

The oracle and sanctuary of the Greek god Apollo at Delphi were known as the omphalos – the centre or navel – of the ancient world for more than a thousand years. Individuals, city leaders and kings came from all over the Mediterranean and beyond to consult Delphi’s oracular priestess; to set up monuments to the gods in gold, ivory, bronze, marble and stone; and to take part in athletic and musical competitions.

Hay Player

Bettany Hughes and Hannah Critchlow

The Raymond Williams Dialogue: The Ideas That Make Us

Hay Festival 2015, 

A classicist and a neuroscientist explore the Ancient Greek words Liberty, Comedy, Charisma, Xenia, Wisdom and Peace and travel both forwards and backwards in time, investigating how these ideas have been moulded by history and have made an impact on history and the human experience. Hughes is the author of Helen of Troy – Goddess, Whore and The Hemlock Cup. Critchlow is named as a British Council's Top 100 UK Scientist for her work in communication.

Bettany Hughes and Hannah Critchlow

Hay Player

Tom Holland, Bettany Hughes, Peter Stothard

Fictions – Mary Renault

Hay Festival 2015, 

We celebrate the republication of Renault’s fabulous Greek historical novels – The Bull from the Sea, The King Must Die, Fire From Heaven, Funeral Games, Lion in the Gateway and The Persian Boy. Chaired by Stephanie Merritt.

Tom Holland, Bettany Hughes, Peter Stothard

Hay Player

Ian Jenkins

Defining Beauty: The Body in Ancient Greek Art

Hay Festival 2015, 

For centuries the ancient Greeks experimented with ways of representing the human body, both as an object of beauty and a bearer of meaning. The remarkable works of art in the British Museum’s blockbuster exhibition range from the abstract simplicity of prehistoric figurines to breathtaking realism in the age of Alexander the Great. The exhibition’s curator introduces the images and sculptures, with co-curator Celeste Farge.

Ian Jenkins

Hay Player

Rosamond McKitterick

Cambridge University Series 17: Charlemagne, Rome and the Management of Sacred Space

Hay Festival 2015, 

In the age of Charlemagne, Rome gained a prominent position in the cultural memory of the Frankish elites. This city was not just associated with the glory of classical and late antique empire, but above all with an authentic Christianity represented by the apostles and the martyrs. North of the Alps, rulers and aristocrats created a virtual Rome by importing relics as well as liturgical practices that were thought of as typically Roman. Chaired by Claire Armitstead.

Rosamond McKitterick

Hay Player

Tom Holland

Dynasty: The Rise and Fall of the House of Caesar

Hay Festival 2016, 

Rome was first ruled by kings, then became a republic. But in the end, after conquering the world, the republic collapsed. So terrible were the civil wars that the Roman people finally came to welcome the rule of an autocrat who could give them peace. Augustus, their new master, called himself “the divinely favoured one”. The lurid glamour of the dynasty founded by Augustus has never faded. No other family can compare for sheer unsettling fascination with its gallery of leading characters. Tiberius, the great general who ended up a bitter recluse, notorious for his perversions; Caligula, the master of cruelty and humiliation who rode his chariot across the sea; Agrippina, mother of Nero, manoeuvring to bring to power the son who would end up having her murdered; Nero himself, racing in the Olympics, marrying a eunuch, and building a pleasure palace over the fire-gutted centre of his capital.

Tom Holland

Hay Player

Paul Cartledge

Cambridge Series 13: Democracy, A Life

Hay Festival 2016, 

The classics super-prof explores the myths surrounding ancient and modern concepts of democracy, from its Athenian origins to the tests of Rome and the Middle Ages, and from its rebirth in C17th Britain all the way to the current state of the European Union.

Paul Cartledge

Hay Player

Aurélia Masson-Berghoff

Sunken Cities

Hay Festival 2016, 

Beneath the waters of Abukir Bay, at the edge of the Nile Delta, lie the submerged remains of the ancient Egyptian cities Canopus and Thonis-Heracleion, which sank more than a thousand years ago. They were dramatically rediscovered in the C20th and brought to the surface by marine archaeologists in the 1990s. The wealth of ancient artefacts from these excavations are now exhibited in the British Museum’s landmark exhibition. The curator tells the story of how two iconic ancient civilisations, Egypt and Greece, interacted in the late first millennium BC.

Hay Player

Tim Whitmarsh

Battling the Gods: Atheism in the Ancient World

Hay Festival 2016, 

Long before the Enlightenment sowed the seeds of disbelief in a deeply Christian Europe, atheism was a matter of serious public debate in the Greek world. But history is written by those who prevail, and the Age of Faith mostly suppressed the lively, free-thinking voices of antiquity. The A G Leventis Professor of Greek Culture at Cambridge brings to life the fascinating ideas of Diagoras of Melos, perhaps the first self-professed atheist; Democritus, the first materialist; and Epicurus and his followers. He shows how the early Christians came to define themselves against atheism, and so suppress the philosophy of disbelief.

Tim Whitmarsh

Hay Player

Oliver Taplin and Tim Whitmarsh

Talking about Sophocles

Hay Festival 2016, 

Sophocles stands as one of the greatest dramatists of all time, and one of the most influential on artists and thinkers over the centuries. Taplin has translated the four great tragedies in which he portrays the extremes of human suffering and emotion. Oedipus the King follows Oedipus, the “man of sorrow”, who has unwittingly chosen to enact his prophesied course by murdering his father and marrying his mother. In Aias, the great warrior confronts the harrowing humiliation inflicted upon him, while Philoctetes sees a once-noble hero nursing his resentment after ten years of marooned isolation. In Oedipus at Colonus the blind Oedipus, who has wandered far and wide as a beggar, finally meets his mysterious death. The great classicist, Oliver Taplin discusses the plays with Tim Whitmarsh, AG Leventis Professor of Greek Culture at Cambridge University. 

Explore All Genres