Greek Island Odyssey with Bettany Hughes: Series 1
The historian and classicist explore Greece from the time of the Ancients up to the present day.
The historian and classicist explores Greece from the time of the Ancients up to the present day. She begins by exploring a graveyard of ancient shipwrecks in the waters of the Eastern Mediterranean, then enjoys the tradition of a warm welcome on the island of Chios. Next, Bettany heads to the island of Lesbos, visiting the ancient Greek Theatre of Mytilene and taking a dip in the island’s thermal waters. Finally, Bettany stops on Samos, an island known for both its ancient naval power and its famous sixth-century BC resident, mathematician and philosopher – Pythagoras.
Bettany visits the sacred isle of Delos, where it has been forbidden for anyone to permanently reside since ancient times. Wandering the ruins, Bettany discovers a dark history to this incredible site as she explores how the Romans turned Delos into a marketplace for their slave trade. She then moves on to Ikaria, an island famous for its long-lived population, and gets a lesson in wine-making. As she moves on to Mykonos, Bettany’s boat is caught in a storm reaching a 10 on the Beaufort scale.
The historian and classicist goes Greek island-hopping to explore their history from the time of the Ancients to the present day. In Santorini, she visits a Minoan city preserved in time by one of the most violent volcanic eruptions in history. Bettany’s next port of call is Naxos, where in an abandoned marble quarry, she finds a genuinely monumental statue of the god that has lain there for thousands of years, before heading to a taverna to take part in some local festivities. The presenter later arrives in Sifnos, where long-distance communications were mastered millennia before telegrams or telephones.
Arriving in Crete just as a storm hits, the historian is lucky to reach `the big island” before the seas become impassable and the annual Christian Epiphany festivities are hampered. She travels to the ruins of the ancient city of Knossos, synonymous with English archaeologist Arthur Evans who unearthed much of its palace over 100 years ago, beneath which the legendary King Minos is said to have kept a crazed half-man, half-bull – the Minotaur. Bettany meets Professor Stampolidis, whose ground-breaking archaeological discoveries prove links between ancient legend and historical reality.
Bettany arrives in the Peloponnese, a peninsula regarded as home to some of ancient Greece’s most legendary kings and vicious warriors. To understand the violent world in which the myths and legends are set, Bettany visits the bones of a 19-year-old-warrior who died more than 3,500 years ago. Healed sword marks and a large hole in his skull are a testament to his environment. In Sparta, the home town of Helen of Troy, Bettany discovers what made the region’s warriors so feared, before heading to Mycenae, likely home to the kings and queens that inspired the story of the Trojan War.
Bettany travels through the Corinth Canal – a feat of engineering that required the removal of 12 million cubic metres of earth – before heading for her penultimate stop of Corfu, where Count Flamburiari reveals the island’s close connections to Britain. From there, Bettany sails to Ithaca, Odysseus’s home island, finally completing her 1,700-mile voyage across the Greek Islands. However, there’s a startling surprise in store when she is awoken in the night by an earthquake measuring 4.9 on the Richter scale.