A Historian Goes to the Movies: Ancient Rome [TTC Video]

A Historian Goes to the Movies: Ancient Rome [TTC Video]
A Historian Goes to the Movies: Ancient Rome [TTC Video] by Gregory S Aldrete, PhD
Course No 8635 | MP4, AVC, 1372 kbps, 960x540 | AAC, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 12x32 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 4.15GB

When most of us think of the ancient Roman world, we don’t think about the scholarship of hard-working historians or the discoveries of patient archaeologists. We think, first and foremost, of what we’ve seen at the movies.

From the sword-and-sandal epics of the 1950s to the resurgence of grittier stories in the 21st century, cinema has exerted an undeniable power over our cultural understanding of ancient Rome. The iconography is always fresh in our minds: gladiatorial battles and chariot races, defiant slaves and nefarious emperors, magnificent public structures and white toga costumes. But just because these and other sights are popular in movies doesn’t mean they should always be taken as historical fact.

What would an award-winning historian think of films like Ben-Hur, Spartacus, Gladiator, or even a satire like Monty Python’s Life of Brian? How have these and other movies created our popular perceptions of ancient Roman history—and in what ways have they led us astray? And why, despite the occasional box-office flop, do movies set in ancient Rome still have the power to captivate us, and to turn each of us into theater-going history buffs?

In A Historian Goes to the Movies: Ancient Rome, Professor Gregory S. Aldrete uses his prolific scholarship to give you a front-row look at the great movies that have shaped ancient Rome’s role in popular culture and memory. Packed with insights into both history and filmmaking, these 12 lectures immerse you in the glory and grandeur (and, sometimes, the folly) of classic and contemporary films featuring over 50 years of cinematic talent, including directors like Stanley Kubrick, Federico Fellini, and Ridley Scott, and actors such as Charlton Heston, Rex Harrison, Elizabeth Taylor, Patrick Stewart, and Russell Crowe. You’ll investigate portrayals of ancient Roman life on the big screen and small screen; learn how to tease out fact from fiction in some of Hollywood’s most stunning spectacles; and deepen your appreciation for films that, when made right, are thrilling time machines into the past.

Survey Landmark Film and TV

For A Historian Goes to the Movies: Ancient Rome, Professor Aldrete has assembled 13 of what he and many other film buffs consider to be the most important films set in ancient Rome. These are movies we remember for their performances, their costumes and set designs, and the ways they influenced the movies made in their wake. A few of the features you will explore include:

  • Quo Vadis: This high-profile 1951 film, starring Peter Ustinov as the tyrannical emperor Nero and Deborah Kerr as a virtuous young Christian girl, established a successful (and lucrative) template for movies about classical antiquity and the early Christian world, and sparked a cultural fire for sword-and-sandal flicks.
  • I, Claudius: Based on two novels by Robert Graves, this BBC miniseries tracks the intimate lives of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, which includes the emperors Claudius, Caligula, and Tiberius. The show also captured the attention of a second group of viewers: those obsessed with England’s royal family.
  • Fellini Satyricon: Italian director Federico Fellini’s experimental film, based on the ancient novel Satyricon by Petronius, was very much a product of the cinematic and social revolutions of the 1960s—both of which left an indelible mark on this picaresque story of a pleasure-seeking young Roman man.
  • Gladiator: Essentially a remake of the 1964 film, The Fall of the Roman Empire, Ridley Scott’s blockbuster film from 2000 was a commercial and cultural triumph that snagged Academy Awards, spawned memorable catchphrases, and inspired a host of new sword-and-sandal epics in the subsequent decade, including Troy and 300.

Some films you may already be a fan of; other films you might have only heard of in passing. But all of them are essential to a well-rounded understanding of the intricate relationship between the world of ancient Rome and the world of the movies.

Walk the Line between Truth and Fiction

A scholar who’s spent his entire career immersed in the history of the ancient Roman world (from ancient body armor to everyday life), Professor Aldrete reveals the historical accuracies and inaccuracies of the ancient Roman world depicted in these films. When filmmakers seemingly got certain aspects of history wrong, Professor Aldrete provides a window into how and why the creators made certain decisions and navigated the tenuous line between truth and entertainment. For example, you’ll discover that:

  • Ben-Hur‘s naval battle, while a reasonable depiction of naval warfare in the ancient Roman world, nevertheless, depicts the oarsmen of the warships as slaves (they weren’t) and being sent to the galleys as punishment (it wasn’t);
  • Spartacus misrepresents the title character’s historical legacy by depicting his revolt as a growing movement challenging slavery, when in reality, it marked the end of popular opposition to the institution;
  • I, Claudius portrays the character of Livia as a mass murderer who kills multiple members of her own family to clear the way for her son, Tiberius—a notion that has been proven to likely be false, and can be traced to a specific ancient historian, Cassius Dio.
  • Gladiator uses the familiar “thumbs down” gesture to indicate a defeated gladiator should be killed, whereas, recent scholarship has revealed this gesture was most likely a way of calling for the victor to drop his weapon and spare his enemy;
  • HBO’s Rome gets many things right about everyday life in ancient Rome, including two characteristics of Roman religion—that it’s a component of nearly all facets of life and that individuals differ in their degrees of belief; and
  • Fellini Satyricon, despite its surreal components, depicts a marriage ceremony accurately by dressing the bride with an orange veil and having the guests throw nuts at the couple and shout “feliciter” in congratulations.

Go behind the Scenes of Cinematic Classics

Along with a revealing look at ancient history, these lectures also examine the art and craft of big-budget filmmaking. A Historian Goes to the Movies: Ancient Rome takes you behind the scenes to reveal how iconic films can be made—or unmade—by everything from clashes between directors and actors to out-of-control budgets.

For example, you’ll learn how:

  • Early epics like Ben-Hur couldn’t rely on the luxury of computer-generated effects and, therefore, had to construct impressive, full-sized replicas of ancient Roman sites like the Forum or the Circus Maximus;
  • Fall of the Roman Empire was the true box-office bomb that tanked the sword-and-sandals genre for decades (not Cleopatra, as popularly believed); and
  • Creative differences between a historical consultant and the producers of Gladiator reflect the way filmmakers ditch historical accuracy for the sake of drama.

Professor Aldrete also highlights profound connections between these films and the wider historical culture in which they first appeared. Quo Vadis, for example, made only a few years after the end of World War II, noticeably portrays the Romans as mirror images of the Nazis. And Spartacus, despite its message of freedom, became the target of McCarthy-era conservative and religious groups who condemned it for being anti-American.

A Guide for Tomorrow’s Great Films

Of course, the end of this exciting lecture series doesn’t mean there isn’t more to come. Roman history continues to inspire new cinematic depictions, and A Historian Goes to the Movies: Ancient Rome is a welcome guide to settings, themes, and “bread-and-circus” plots that popular culture just can’t let go of.

Professor Aldrete’s lectures leave you excited about how tomorrow’s movies will depict the ancient world—and eager to discover what those creative works will reveal about both the past and the times in which they’re made.

A Historian Goes to the Movies: Ancient Rome [TTC Video]

Liberty on Trial in America: Cases That Defined Freedom [TTC Video]

Liberty on Trial in America: Cases That Defined Freedom [TTC Video]
Liberty on Trial in America: Cases That Defined Freedom [TTC Video] by Douglas O Linder, JD
Course No. 8692 | MP4, AVC, 960x540 | AAC, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30m | + PDF Guidebook | 7.57GB

We like to believe that the founding principle of the United States is liberty. “Give me liberty, or give me death!” Patrick Henry famously said in 1775 to encourage the Virginia colonists to fight for their freedom. It was liberty for which he was willing to sacrifice his life. And it was to gain that liberty that the colonists eventually fought and won the Revolutionary War. So, you would think that when the United States of America was formed, our citizenry could finally enjoy a plethora of hard-won liberties.

But that was not the case. While the new Americans no longer suffered from taxation without representation, many of the liberties we enjoy today were not part of their lives. In Liberty on Trial in America: Cases That Defined Freedom, you will learn how liberty increased in our country when individuals sued for those freedoms, when cases were brought specifically to test the limits of the Constitution with its Amendments, and even when a jury in a local case returned an unexpected verdict that helped change the thinking of the times.

In 24 fascinating lectures, Professor Douglas O. Linder of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law takes you behinds the scenes of the trials that brought us many of the freedoms we enjoy today. You’ll learn what happened when Anne Hutchinson dared to speak her religious ideas in the Massachusetts Bay Colony of the 1600s; when Susan B. Anthony decided to vote in a national election; when John Peter Zenger challenged colonial authorities in his newspaper; when labor activists promoted radical ideas in the 1880s in Chicago; when Jehovah’s Witnesses decided their children should not be forced to salute the American flag in school, and brought 22 other civil liberties cases to the courts, and more.

A Behind-the-Scenes Look

You’ll develop an in-depth understanding of the participants in more than 24 fascinating trials and learn what actions and thoughts led them to court, as well as hear from the prosecuting and defending attorneys in cases that addressed the freedom to:

  • Teach evolution. In 1925, John Scopes was a young science teacher who agreed to serve as a test case for the Tennessee Butler Act, the law that made it illegal to teach anything that denied the Biblical account of human origins. While Scopes was convicted of teaching evolution, the trial brought the issue into American homes. The Butler Act was repealed, but not until 1967.
  • Marry the person you love, no matter their skin color. When Richard Loving married Mildred Jeter in 1958, they were thrilled, but the commonwealth of Virginia was not; Richard was white, and the state identified Mildred as “colored,” which made it illegal for them to marry. They eventually took their case to the Supreme Court and won in 1967.
  • Defend your home and family, regardless of race. In 1925, African American doctor Ossie Sweet bought a home for his family in a white neighborhood of Detroit. When a white man was killed during a riot outside his house, police charged everyone in the Sweet home with premeditated murder. With Clarence Darrow as his lawyer, the Sweets won the same right to defend their property that their white neighbors already enjoyed.

Famous Figures

Many famous figures in American history play prominent roles in these trials, whether as plaintiff, defendant, or attorney. You’re familiar with their names, but in this course, you’ll learn their fascinating backstories, including:

  • John Brown, the abolitionist who armed slaves and encouraged an uprising in 1859 at Harper’s Ferry;
  • Susan B. Anthony, the women’s suffrage advocate who was arrested in 1872 for the act of voting;
  • Clarence Darrow, the attorney who, in the 1920s, defended the right of science teacher John Scopes to teach evolution in public school, and—with a seven-hour summation—defended the right of African American Henry Sweet to defend himself against a white mob;
  • William Jennings Bryan, three-time presidential candidate, U.S. Secretary of State, and the attorney who prosecuted John Scopes for teaching evolution in public school, but withered under examination by Clarence Darrow;
  • Norma McCorvey (“Roe”), the woman who filed suit against Dallas District Attorney Henry Wade in 1970, challenging a Texas law that prohibited her from having an abortion; and
  • Jack Kevorkian, the doctor who advocated for a patient’s right to die by physician-assisted suicide, participated in euthanasia, and was convicted of murder in 1999.

When Liberty Lost

U.S. history has not always moved in a straight line from less freedom to more freedom. In Liberty on Trial in America: Cases That Defined Freedom, you’ll learn not only about cases in which liberty claims were vindicated, but also those in which they were denied. Sometimes those cases that upheld the status quo seem most clearly unjust by today’s standards, and, occasionally, even by the standards of the times. Slavery, for example, sometimes received protection by judges who nonetheless found it despicable. It was the Civil War and the Fourteenth Amendment, not the courts, that finally granted liberties to enslaved persons. You’ll learn about cases that:

  • Did not allow a slave to testify that she killed her master in self-defense after he had repeatedly raped her over a period of years. At trial, evidence was presented that the fatal blow that particular night came only after Celia (no last name) was physically threatened, but the judge instructed the jury to ignore that evidence. Celia was convicted and executed.
  • Upheld the “separate but equal” doctrine, keeping Jim Crow laws on the books for decades. Homer Plessy was a Caucasian-looking man in Louisiana who took a seat in a train’s “white” section, announced he was 1/8 African American, and refused to move. The case eventually reached the Supreme Court, which upheld the constitutionality of racial segregation laws for public facilities.
  • Upheld the constitutionality of the Japanese American relocation camps on the basis of national security. Two months after Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt signed an executive order requiring all Japanese Americans to move into the camps. Fred Korematsu refused, was arrested, convicted, and took his case to the Supreme Court. The Court majority found that the executive order was justified by national security concerns.

No courts are infallible. As you’ll learn in Liberty on Trial in America: Cases That Defined Freedom, the Supreme Court has come back to revisit these and many other decisions. Sometimes new information is available, or the social framework of society has drastically changed, and sometimes the original decisions were just wrong. For example, in 2018, Chief Justice John Roberts took an opportunity to comment on Korematsu: “Korematsu was gravely wrong the day it was decided, has been overruled in the court of history, and—to be clear—has no place in law under the Constitution.”

As you learn about the intriguing cases presented in the 24 lectures of this course, you’ll understand and appreciate your own liberties in a new way. After all, every freedom we have has been won through someone’s passion and willingness to fight for what they believe is right. And just as liberty has been continuously redefined throughout American history—it will continue to be redefined in the future.

Liberty on Trial in America: Cases That Defined Freedom [TTC Video]

The Complete Painter: Lessons from the Masters [TTC Video]

The Complete Painter: Lessons from the Masters [TTC Video]
The Complete Painter: Lessons from the Masters [TTC Video] by David Brody, Professor of Painting and Drawing
Course No 7788 | MP4, AVC, 1370 kbps, 960x540 | AAC, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 34x28 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 10.44GB

Many of us have the mistaken idea that only “born artists” can paint. But the truth is much more exciting—with the right training, anyone can learn the skill of painting! In The Complete Painter: Lessons from the Masters, an award-winning art instructor teaches those skills in 34 easy-to-follow lessons.

The novice will learn the fundamentals of oil painting, from choosing paints and brushes to composition, to a wide variety of specific painting techniques. The experienced painter will gain greater knowledge of oil paints, mediums, lighting, color, and structure. The course includes hands-on experiences for all students, from making your own pigment and paint to copying the methods and compositional choices of the great masters.

In The Complete Painter: Lessons from the Masters, you’ll learn to paint using the same steps taught at the best art schools around the country. Your teacher, David Brody, award-winning Professor of Painting and Drawing at of the University of Washington, begins with the basics, taking you on a fascinating deep dive into the physical properties of oil paint itself, including how to work safely with hazardous materials. From there, you’ll move into the study of marks, lines, brushstrokes, and edges; value, color, and palettes; and how to prepare your canvases and rigid supports—including how to transfer the required underdrawings that are provided in your course guidebook. Next, you’ll study techniques by copying from some of the world’s most iconic paintings.

Throughout this course, your professor guides you in your work, painting right along with you during the exercises—illustrating everything from how he mixes and thins his paints to paint application and removal. But this is not a paint-by-numbers course, nor will you see your professor start and finish paintings in real-time. This is a course for those who are motivated and energized about learning to paint, for those who understand that acquiring a depth of “behind-the-scenes” knowledge will be more valuable in the long run than mimicking every stroke of a teacher.

Course Organization

The Complete Painter: Lessons from the Masters includes several, distinct types of lessons, all of which come together to provide college-level expertise about the history, materials, and techniques of oil painting:

  • Materials. You’ll learn about the real “must-haves” for your workspace—paper, pencils, additives, brushes, and the six specific tubes of paint you’ll need for your first palette. You’ll learn the difference between flexible and rigid supports, how to work with proportional dividers, and how to best light your workspace.
  • Palettes. Just as a chef can’t include every spice in any one recipe, a painter must limit color to create a unique work. You’ll learn to work with some of the classic restricted palettes—grisaille, brunaille, and earth-tone—as well as a more expansive palette toward the end of the course.
  • Exercises. You’ll have many opportunities to practice basic painting techniques such as lines, marks, and shapes, as well as skills related to ground, balance, space, and more.
  • Projects. Once you have your materials, understand your palette options, and have practiced a great variety of techniques, you will move on to larger projects. Your professor leaves you with some suggestions for creating projects of your own. And, you’ll certainly be ready for the challenge!

In the Grand Tradition of Copying the Masters

The idea of “copying” someone else’s work can carry a negative connotation. But for many hundreds of years, painters have known that if they wanted to paint like the best, they needed to study the best. The Louvre opened its doors to copyists more than 225 years ago and continues a formal and tightly regulated program for copyists today. Cézanne is quoted as having said, “The Louvre is the book from which we learn to read.” Chagall, Dali, Degas, Picasso certainly agreed—Louvre copyists, all.

Continuing in that grand tradition, this course will take you on a deep dive into some of the most iconic works of Western art. You, too, can discover how the masters worked, studying characteristics of their paintings from composition to value to brush strokes. You’ll consider:

  • The Ballerina by Degas. You’ll analyze a great range of mark making, from brushwork to scratched hatchings. You’ll learn first-hand the value of both adding and removing paint to achieve a desired texture.
  • Still Life by Morandi. You’ll study depth and focus without the highlight of chiaroscuro, as Morandi hovered between two and three dimensions. As you explore how some of his objects seem to “dissolve,” you’ll learn new ways to work with edges.
  • The Scream by Munch. You’ll see that even very representational paintings are not mere assemblages of rendered objects. Instead, they’re highly organized groupings of interlocking shapes. And although many assume this was created in a fit of emotion, you’ll learn how meticulously Munch planned this work—over a period of 19 years.
  • Guernica by Picasso. You’ll learn how powerful even the most limited of palettes can be. In this large and formidable painting, the drama is enhanced by the ancient monochrome technique known as grisaille. And although Picasso’s individual elements are moder—and even shocking—their composition is classical and symmetric; almost every element on the left is answered by a specific element on the right.
  • The Last Supper by Leonardo. By studying the intricate geometric composition of this work, you’ll begin to see the underlying formation that binds its elements together—the rectangle’s armature. You’ll begin to appreciate the way the armature directs the painting’s composition, a composition that artists have used for many hundreds of years.

Make Your Own Materials

Beyond the paintings and technical exercises, The Complete Painter: Lessons from the Masters gives you many opportunities to dig in and create the tools and mediums that painters have been making for centuries. Although you can certainly buy all the materials, by learning how to make them, you’ll develop a deeper understanding of their functionality, as well as be able to create them to your exact specifications. Among many other materials, this course provides step-by-step instructions for making:

  • Damar varnish. You can easily make this varnish from damar crystals and turpentine.
  • Flexible supports. Learn how to make your own supports from the purchase of the linen and stretchers to stretching the linen over the frame, and making your own rabbit-hide glue to size the linen.
  • Gesso. Making your own traditional gesso from chalk, white pigment, glue, and water takes a bit of time, but it provides a beautiful, very smooth, white surface for painting on rigid supports.
  • Painting table and brush table. Step-by-step directions for building these two tables from ¾-inch plywood can be found in the course guidebook. While they take some time to build, they’ll provide all the support you’ll need for your work. They also provide the convenience of having your materials protected, and having them exactly where you need them every time.

The Complete Painter: Lessons from the Masters is a robust and energetic guide to oil painting for those who have always been enamored of this skill, but were afraid to give it a try. With your professor’s easy-going manner, calm and clear instruction, and obvious love of the subject, you’ll be painting in no time!

The Complete Painter: Lessons from the Masters [TTC Video]

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