Natalie Haynes Stands Up For The Classics

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0702Pandora20210525

"Rock star classicist" and reformed stand-up Natalie Haynes is obsessed with the ancient world. In these series she explores (historical and mythological) lives from ancient Rome and Greece that still have resonance today. They are hilarious and tragic, mystifying, revelatory. And they always tell us more about ourselves now than seems possible of stories from a couple of thousand years ago.

Today Natalie stands up for Pandora, she of the box. Which turns out to have been a jar, and not a box, or a casket, or any of the other receptacles that have been depicted as containing all sorts of evils, and of course hope. It's Erasmus' fault, for a 16th century mistranslation.

A mythological equivalent to Eve with a bit of Sleeping Beauty thrown in, Pandora is described as 'beautiful evil', an irresistible punishment meted out on mankind by the god Zeus, who is annoyed with Prometheus for stealing fire. Pandora is made from clay and given a lovely silvery dress by Athene, and from her all women are descended. Once her jar is opened by Epimetheus (he was warned! but he didn't listen), and all the evil flies out, then mankind's carefree life is at an end. So, not really Pandora's fault at all.

With Professor Edith Hall.

Producer Mary Ward-Lowery

A mythological equivalent to Eve with a bit of Sleeping Beauty thrown in. With Edith Hall

Natalie Haynes creates stand-up routines about figures from ancient Greece and Rome.

0703Jocasta20210601

"Rock star classicist" and reformed stand-up Natalie Haynes is obsessed with the ancient world. In these series she explores (historical and mythological) lives from ancient Rome and Greece that still have resonance today. They are hilarious and tragic, mystifying, revelatory. And they always tell us more about ourselves now than seems possible of stories from a couple of thousand years ago.

Today Natalie stands up for Jocasta, whose second marriage was to Oedipus. Now for some spoilers if you're thinking of watching or reading Sophocles' play Oedipus Tyrannus.

After some years of happy marriage and four children, Jocasta discovers that Oedipus is, in fact, her son, and the murderer of her first husband (his father) Laius. Jocasta only has a few lines in the famous play, but we learn a remarkable amount about her character. She is smarter than her husband, quicker to understand what's happening and its implications. She is courageous. And she is quicker to act.

The story - in all its forms - is still spellbindingly shocking today.

With Professor Edith Hall.
Produced by Mary Ward-Lowery for BBC Audio in Bristol

The wife of Oedipus. And mother. A still spellbindingly shocking story. With Edith Hall.

Natalie Haynes creates stand-up routines about figures from ancient Greece and Rome.

0704Clytemnestra20210608

"Rock star classicist" and reformed stand-up Natalie Haynes is obsessed with the ancient world. In these series she explores (historical and mythological) lives from ancient Rome and Greece that still have resonance today. They are hilarious and tragic, mystifying, revelatory. And they always tell us more about ourselves now than seems possible of stories from a couple of thousand years ago.

Today Natalie stands up for Clytemnestra, who has been characterised as the worst wife in Greek mythology. This is open to debate: she's certainly a good mother, if a little bit murderous of her husband. But it turns out that Agamemnon probably deserves it. After all he sacrifices one of their daughters to Artemis without a second thought and then turns up at home years later with Cassandra, the future-seeing woman he has 'won' as a prize (also read: trafficked and enslaved) at the Battle of Troy. These actions demonstrate a certain lack of respect for his wife, as well as cruelty of the highest order. Cassandra reads the room, obviously, but nobody listens to her. Clytemnestra has a good legal brain and states her case convincingly. But it's unlikely to end well.

With Professor Edith Hall.
Producer...Mary Ward-Lowery

The worst wife in Greek myth. Or was she? With Professor Edith Hall.

Natalie Haynes creates stand-up routines about figures from ancient Greece and Rome.