Treasures of Ancient Rome

Confirmed for Monday 3 September on BBC Four at 9.00pm - 10.00pm

Ep 1/3

Monday 3 September



The Romans have a reputation for being brilliant engineers and soldiers, but what isn't as well known is that they also gave us wonderful artistic treasures. In this new three-part series, Alastair Sooke argues that the old fashioned view that the Romans didn’t do art is nonsense.

He traces how the Romans during the Republic went from being art thieves and copycats to pioneering a new artistic style: warts ‘n’ all realism. Roman portraits reveal what the great names from history, men like Julius Caesar and Cicero, actually looked like. Modern day artists demonstrate the ingenious techniques used to create these true to life masterpieces in marble, bronze and paint.

We can step back into the Roman world thanks to their invention of the documentary-style marble relief and the eruption of the Vesuvius volcano, which in its destruction of Pompeii left a remarkable artistic legacy. Finally, Sooke shows how Rome’s first emperor, Augustus, used the power of art to help forge an empire.