The passage of knowledge between the Ancient World and today’s modern one, has not been smooth. In many cases only a fraction of what was once known has reached us today. Just seven out of around eighty plays by Aeschylus survive, seven out of the hundred and twenty written by Sophocles and a similar proportion of those by Euripides.
Often knowledge was lost at specific moments of conflict or tumult in the human story. In this episode of Travels Through Time the historian Dr Violet Moller takes us back to one of the most crucial years of all: 529, when the Roman Empire was in its latter days and a new Christian world was emerging.
Violet’s travels through the past takes us on a picaresque tour of this significant year. In Constantinople we see the last great Roman emperor. In Athens a “Golden Chain” of learning is about to be severed after many centuries. And on a rocky hill in central Italy, a new monastic order that will have a spectacular future, is founded.
Dr Violet Moller is the author of The Map of Knowledge, winner of the Royal Society for Literature’s Jerwood Prize. The Daily Telegraph called it “popular intellectual history at its best.”
- Constantinople where Justinian is rebuilding the city, rewriting the legal code and issuing proclamations limiting the practice of Pagan faiths and philosophy.
- Athens, the Neoplatonist Academy is closing thanks to Justinian’s proclamation, breaking a tradition of learning stretching back hundreds of years. The philosophers pack up their books and leave for Persia where they would be protected by the Sassanid King Khosrow I.
- Montecassino where St Benedict is building a monastery on the site of an ancient Temple of Apollo, establishing the most important religious order of the Middle Ages.
Memento: A crate of books, saved from the Neoplatonic Academy
People / Social
Presenter: Peter Moore
Guest: Dr Violet Moller
Producer: Maria Nolan
Editorial: Artemis Irvine
Digital Production: John Hillman
Titles: Jon O.