230 episodes

Discover world history, culture and ideas with today’s leading experts

The Forum BBC

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.7, 108 Ratings

Discover world history, culture and ideas with today’s leading experts

    The Fall of the Roman Empire

    The Fall of the Roman Empire

    In 476, the last of the Roman emperors in the West was deposed; in 1776, historian Edward Gibbon wrote “The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire”, and Rome’s fate became a major point of comparison for all empires. In Gibbon's view, instead of inquiring why the Roman empire was destroyed precisely 1300 years before, we should rather be surprised that it had subsisted so long. Ever since, there has been a fascination with what changed in Rome in 476 and why, and whether there were more significant changes earlier or later than that date and, importantly, what stayed the same.

    In this edition of The Forum, Rajan Datar explores the ideas about Rome’s Fall with Sarah E. Bond, Associate Professor of History at the University of Iowa, USA; Meaghan McEvoy, Lecturer in Byzantine Studies at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia; and Peter Heather, Professor of Medieval History at King’s College London, UK.


    (Photo: Sack of Rome by the Visigoths led by Alaric I in 410. Coloured engraving. Credit: Prisma/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

    • 39 min
    Picasso, artist of reinvention

    Picasso, artist of reinvention

    Pablo Picasso is commonly regarded as one of the most influential artists of the 20th Century, changing our way of seeing with his radical innovation and revolutionary approach. As pioneer of Cubism, godfather to the Surrealists, and creator of the enduring anti-war painting Guernica, he produced thousands of paintings in his lifetime, not to mention his sculptures, ceramics, stage designs, poetry and plays.

    Rajan Datar discusses his life and work with curators Ann Temkin and Katharina Beisiegel, and art historian Charlie Miller.

    (Photo: Pablo Picasso in 1955. Credit: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

    • 39 min
    Tolstoy: War and Peace

    Tolstoy: War and Peace

    'War and Peace' by the Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy charts the story of Russia during the Napoleonic wars of the early 19th century, covering the pandemonium and brutality of the battlefield, as well as the equally intense dramas and loves of several families. It is a monumental novel, tracking the fortunes of dozens of brilliantly drawn individuals, with a cast of more than six hundred characters, both historical and fictional. So why is 'War and Peace' still such a compelling masterpiece, and why did Tolstoy later disown it?

    Joining Bridget Kendall are Dr Galina Alexeeva, head of Research at Yasnaya Polyana, Tolstoy’s former country estate in Russia; Andrei Zorin, Professor of Russian at Oxford University and author of a new biography of Tolstoy, and Professor Donna Orwin, author of 'Simply Tolstoy', who’s from the University of Toronto in Canada.

    (Image: Anthony Hopkins as Pierre Bezukhov in the 1972 BBC 20- part dramatization of Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace. Credit: BBC Copyright pictures)

    • 40 min
    Chaucer, father of English poetry

    Chaucer, father of English poetry

    Geoffrey Chaucer has been called the father of English poetry and the greatest poet in English before Shakespeare. He is best known for The Canterbury Tales, stories told by a band of pilgrims on their way from London to the shrine of Thomas Becket who was murdered in Canterbury Cathedral two centuries before. Chaucer’s was an age of plague, war and revolt and his pilgrims bring insight into the life and values of those tumultuous times, from the bawdy Miller and the earthy Wife of Bath to the corrupt Pardoner and the Knight whose chivalry was increasingly out of step with the times.

    Bridget Kendall explores the range of Chaucer’s world with Emily Steiner, Professor of English at University of Pennsylvania; Mary Flannery, Professor of Medieval English Studies at Bern University; and Anthony Bale, Professor of Medieval Studies at Birkbeck College, University of London.

    (Image: Portrait of Geoffrey Chaucer based on a 19th century engraving by James Thomson Credit: Stock Montage/Getty Images)

    • 39 min
    Up close with tango

    Up close with tango

    Tango is easy to recognise: those daring steps, the tight hold of the dancing partners, the intense yet melancholy music dominated by the plaintive sounds of the bandoneon. But if you ask what exactly tango is and where it came from, the answer may not be so immediately clear – because it’s more than a genre of music, more than just a style of dance.
    To get insights into the roots, the culture and even the magic of tango, Rajan Datar is joined by leading tango historians Maria Susana Azzi, Christine Denniston and John Turci-Escobar.

    Photo: Argentine dancers on stage at the World Tango Championships in 2014 (Getty Images)

    • 39 min
    Valkyries: Fierce women of war

    Valkyries: Fierce women of war

    In Norse mythology, Valkyries were women who went out into battles to choose the slain warriors who deserved to be in Valhalla, Odin’s place in Asgard, to carry on fighting in preparation for the final apocalyptic confrontation of Ragnarok, between gods and giants. Fighters would see the Valkyries flying through the air or riding on horses, with shields and helmets, some saving the lives and ships of those they favoured, some causing death to those they disliked. These stories of Valkyries and Valhalla offer insights into the lives and values of the people who told them, with the possibility that human women went into battle too.

    Bridget Kendall is joined by Sif Rikhardsdottir, Professor and Chair of Comparative Literature at the University of Iceland, Marianne Hem Eriksen, Associate Professor of Archaeology at the Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo in Norway, and Judith Jesch, Professor of Viking Studies at the University of Nottingham, in the UK.

    (Picture: Illustration from The Rhinegold and the Valkyrie, 1910. Artist: Arthur Rackham Credit: Historica Graphica Collection/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

    • 39 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
108 Ratings

108 Ratings

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Perfect to listen to when running

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Great

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Falling in Love With Learning (again)

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