TV antiquity

Swords, sandals, blood and sand

TV antiquity explores representations of ancient Greece and Rome throughout television history. It is the first comprehensive overview of the genre in television. More specifically, the author argues that serial television set in antiquity offers a perspective on the ancient world quite distinct from their cinematic counterparts. The book traces the historic development of fictional representations of antiquity from the staged black-and-white shows of the 1950s and 1960s to the most recent digital spectacles. A key argument explored throughout the book is that the structure of serial television (with its focus on intimacy and narrative complexity) is at times better suited to explore the complex mythic and historic plots of antiquity. Therefore, the book consciously focuses on multipart television dramas rather than made-for-TV feature films. This enables the author to explore the specific narrative and aesthetic possibilities of this format. The book features a range of insightful case studies, from the high-profile serials I, Claudius (1976) and Rome (2005–8) to lesser-known works like The Caesars (1968) or The Eagle of the Ninth (1976) and popular entertainment shows such as Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (1995–99) and STARZ Spartacus (2010–13). Each of the case studies also teases out broader issues of the specific decade under consideration. Consequently, the book highlights the creative interplay between television genres and production environments and illustrates how cultural and political events have influenced the representations of antiquity in television.

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