iPlayer Radio What's New?
Image for Paganism in the Renaissance

Play now 45 mins

Paganism in the Renaissance

Duration:
45 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 16 June 2005

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss paganism in the Renaissance. For hundreds of years in the Middle Ages, the only way to read Ovid was through the prism of a Christian moralising text. Ovid's sensual tales of metamorphosis and pagan gods were presented as veiled allegories, and the famous story of Zeus descending to Danae in a shower of gold was explained as the soul receiving divine illumination. But in 1478 Botticelli finished Primavera, the first major project on a mythological theme for a thousand years, and by 1554 Titian completed a very different version of Danae - commissioned by a Cardinal, no less - where she expectantly awaits her union with Zeus in what is a nakedly sexual pose.

What happened to bring the myths and eroticism of antiquity back into the culture of Europe? And how was it possible for a Church that was prosecuting for heresy, to exalt in pagan imagery, even in the Vatican itself?

With Tom Healy, Professor of Renaissance Studies, Birkbeck College, University of London; Charles Hope, Director of the Warburg Institute and Professor of the History of the Classical Tradition, University of London; Evelyn Welch, Professor of Renaissance Studies at Queen Mary, University of London.

Broadcasts

Featured in...

In Our Time Downloads

melvyn-bragg.jpg

Every episode of In Our Time - available to download to listen to when & where you want.

Free downloads

  1. Image for In Our Time Archive: Culture

    In Our Time Archive: Culture

    Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the history of ideas as it applies to culture - from literature…

  2. Image for In Our Time Archive: History

    In Our Time Archive: History

    Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the people, conflicts and events that have shaped the world.

  3. Image for In Our Time Archive: Philosophy

    In Our Time Archive: Philosophy

    Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the history of philosophy - from ancient Greek thinkers to the…

  4. Image for In Our Time Archive: Religion

    In Our Time Archive: Religion

    Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the history of religious ideas - from the faith systems of…

  5. Image for In Our Time Archive: Science

    In Our Time Archive: Science

    Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the history of ideas and the evolution of the sciences - from…

  6. Image for In Our Time With Melvyn Bragg

    In Our Time With Melvyn Bragg

    Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the history of ideas - including topics drawn from philosophy,…

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Added. Check out your playlist Dismiss