March 11, 2011

Myth in the Greek and Roman Worlds

Tags: History, Podcasts

Available on iTunes and OU Podcasts

These podcasts were produced as part of The Open University course A330: Myth in the Greek and Roman Worlds. However, it just concentrates on a single example, the artifacts found at the Temple of Diana at Nemi, popular in Ancient Rome. The series is composed of 8 episodes, although only 4 of these are on the temple. The remainder are introductions or discussions on context. The 4 temple podcasts are video slideshows of photos with narration describing what is being shown. The video podcasts are all around 5 minutes long (50MB) and recorded at 640x360 resolution, or a smaller iPod optimised format. Transcripts are available in PDF format.

Very little of the original temple and sanctuary still exists at Nemi, so these podcasts look at four of the items found on the site. There is a podcast devoted to a model of a temple, about which not much is known. Perhaps it is a votive offering like the small sculpture of a women with some internal organs visible. Apparently Diana was not just the goddess of the hunt, but also had a healing aspect, especially for women. Thus when ill, Roman people may turn to Diana and leave votive offerings representing their ailment to aid their recovery. Another offering is an oil lamp decorated with what may be a proud statement of profession - a painting of a street entertainer with his monkey and cat. This is a low status profession, but gifts to the gods (and funerary monuments) were the main way the poor and slaves could celebrate their backgrounds. Hence the stern statue of his ex-owner paid for by a freed slave. The narration proposes the statue is constructed in an archaic style, the herm, so as to suggest the ex-owner as almost an ancestor to the ex-slave.

The non-temple episodes introduce the series and discuss the role of myth in the ancient world. Myth surrounded the population and provided purpose and entertainment. There is also some talk about how classical myths have continued through the ages and still influence us now. These episodes add little to historical understanding, instead justifying the course in a modern context.

The temple artifact episodes are interesting, but not vital viewing.