Treasures of Ancient Greece

The Long Shadow
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Review

After the broader strokes of the first two episodes, Alastair Sooke unpacks his reductionist's brush for the final part of the series. His aim: to distil ancient Greece's artistic legacy into just five key creations from the classical canon.

He chooses Praxiteles's Aphrodite of Knidos; the Hamilton vases; the bronze Horses of St Mark; the Discobolus of Myron; and perhaps most impressive of all — the Laocoon. This "sculpture of high drama, action, tragedy and pathos" proved a major influence on Michelangelo when it was unearthed by workmen in Renaissance Rome. "In that moment of discovery," says Sooke, "the torch of antiquity was passed to the modern world".

Summary

Alastair Sooke traces the complex and fascinating story of Western civilisation's love affair with Greek art, learning how people in succeeding centuries found inspiration for their own ideals and ambitions. Filming in Britain, France, Italy and Germany, Alastair visits the Aphrodite of Knidos, which was the first naked woman in Western art; the bronze horses of St Mark's in Venice, which became a pawn in an imperial game; and the Discobolus, which was purchased by Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. Last in the series.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Alastair Sooke
Director Suniti Somaiya
Producer Suniti Somaiya
Documentary