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This is Civilization 01 - Ye Gods

« civilisation - 13 Heroic Materialism

This Is Civilization 02 - Feelings »

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This is Civilization

Matthew Collings

Episode One

Ye Gods

Whatever our religious beliefs, the feelings we have about civilisation today would be unimaginable without the religious art of the past.

Collings starts in ancient Greece. The Greeks absorbed the awesome power of representations of the gods left by older civilisations, particularly the ancient Egyptians, but it's the element the Greeks added that still fascinates us today: lifelikeness, the human body, the feeling that this is art that celebrates what it is to be human.

Collings then explores how the religion that replaced the paganism of the Greeks, Christianity, has reacted to that momentous change in human consciousness. He traces the story of Christian art from primitive daubs in the catacombs beneath Rome, through the shimmering mosaics of Byzantine cathedrals, to the great Crucifixion scenes of Western art.

Finally he visits mosques in Egypt, Turkey and southern Spain, to show how a third great religious tradition, Islam, proposed a very different view of how religious art should shape our lives.


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