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Review: Genius Of The Ancient World - Bettany Hughes

Posted July 14th, 2016 at 04:59 AM by HistoricalGeek

I’d like to start by acknowledging that the fact that my parents kept these episodes for me makes this review possible. Right, now… here we go.

There are three episodes, presented by Bettany Hughes.

The first episode is about Buddha, who I personally knew little about.

As I have often commented on before, Bettany presents with real passion for what she’s talking about.

The Buddha episode is clearly well researched, as are the others, and Bettany’s presentation opens both mind and heart (at least for me) to what we can learn from him (and indeed, the others). Simple presenting done with passion can always keep my attention.

‘For me, it’s genuinely exciting….’ - Bettany Hughes.

The blend of Philosophy and History in the first episode is highly intriguing.

The way Bettany presents the facts and truth of the uncertainty of certain accounts is truly refreshing. The interactions between Bettany and other people, Historians or simply other people with some input, are both interesting, factual and pleasingly easy to follow.
The cinematography of the episodes are both beautiful but carefully done to not distract from the words and what there is to learn.

To finish the section on Buddha I want to leave it on Buddha’s own words as they are both beautiful and meaningfully hopeful. (Which, it seems, is sorely needed lately.)

‘Let no one deceive another, nor despise anyone anywhere, as a mother protects her child, with boundless, loving, kindness, cherish the world, love without limit.’

The episode that comes next is on Socrates (of which, more shall come later), who, although I know a little more about, still keeps me endlessly intrigued.

Again I must mention Bettany’s presenting as being a blessing as her endless enthusiasm keeps the facts from seeming dry or boring. (For me that is almost never really a problem…)

Much of what I would have to say has already been covered so I apologize if the next couple episodes are barely covered.

Bettany skilfully paints a picture of how Athens would have been that truly brings it to life. (Vague, but consider it a challenge to figure out what I mean…)

‘A god, for heaven’s sake…’ - Bettany Hughes.

Above is an example of why Bettany is so engaging as a presenter. She doesn’t talk down to someone, she presents almost as if you are simply talking to one another and learning.
Keeping it both relevant and fun without confusing you or, as a friend put it, dumbing it down. Bettany treads the line perfectly here.

The final episode is on Confucious. I knew very little about Confucious although by the end I at least knew a fair amount.

As I have covered many of the main points I will no doubt have less to say this time.

Bettany again presents the whole documentary with both simplicity and passion. Understanding Confucious is not always easy but Bettany manages to be both clear and precise.

For more information I can only suggest you look the series up at: bbc.co.uk/store

Or check the links at: bbc.co.uk/genius

ETA: Anyone wanting a review of ‘Modern Genius’ just re-read this and sub in Marx, Nietzsche and Freud. It really would be the same comments.
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