The Etruscans were one of the other cultures to live in Italy in the 1st Millenium BCE. They are often overlooked in favour of the Romans (who conquered them), but they were a power in their day and even ruled over Rome for a while early in its history. They were the subject of an In Our Time episode from 2011 which we listened to recently, and discussing Etruscan history and culture were Phil Perkins (Open University), David Ridgway (University of London) and Corinna Riva (University College London).
Aesop's Fables are so deeply embedded into our culture that references to them are common parts of the language - "sour grapes", "crying wolf" and so on. But we don't often think about who Aesop was, where these stories originated or what the point of them is - or at least, I certainly didn't! Discussing Aesop and the fables attributed to him on In Our Time were Pavlos Avlamis (Trinity College, University of Oxford), Simon Goldhill (University of Cambridge), and Lucy Grig (University of Edinburgh).
Josephus was a Jewish and Roman historian in the 1st Century AD who wrote (amongst other things) about the Roman-Jewish war that lead to the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. In the 18th Century this book was widely read by Christians as it appears to provide historical evidence for Jesus; and Josephus was held up as one of the great historians. However to Jews he was a much more controversial figure and wasn't read or referred to until much later in the Enlightenment.
Back in April J and I visited the Defining Beauty exhibition at the British Museum which finished in early July. It's the only one of their exhibitions where I've been as ambivalent about it on the way out as I was on the way in - which says rather more about me than the exhibition, I think. The subject of the exhibition was Ancient Greek sculpture and the incredible impact it has had on the modern Western definition of beauty.
Cleopatra: A Timewatch Guide was on BBC4 back in February as part of a short run of programmes cobbled together from old Timewatch footage interspersed with some narration by a current presenter (and modern footage of talking heads) tying it all together. The presenter in this case was Vanessa Collinridge, who I'd not seen present anything before (which is a shame for her, as I'm judging her based on this ...).
Julius Caesar is one of the most well known Roman historical figures. He conquered Gaul, changed the nature of the Roman state from republic to almost empire (although it took Augustus to finish that job), and his writings are still read today in Latin classes. Discussing him on In Our Time were Christopher Pelling (University of Oxford), Catherine Steel (University of Glasgow) and Maria Wyke (University College London).
The third course I've done on Future Learn was about archaeology & the Roman port Portus. And sadly I found it a bit disappointing. The course was run by Southampton University, whose archaeology department are one of the partners in the excavation of the site at Portus. Portus is in Italy, near Rome & to the west of it. From the 1st Century AD it was the main port serving the city of Rome, remaining in use until the 7th Century.
Byzantium: A Tale of Three Cities was a series about the history of Byzantium aka Constantinople aka Istanbul presented by Simon Sebag Montefiore that we watched in December last year finishing just before Christmas. Montefiore seems to be specialising in serieses about holy cities - his previous ones have been about Jerusalem (which we watched before I started writing blog posts) and Rome (post).