BBC The Saint and the Scholar: Portrait of Abelard (48:05)This is the story of the radical theologian Peter Abelard. Born near Nantes, France, in 1079, Abelard’s teaching on the Trinity was declared heretical. He went on to found the Paraclete and became the abbot of St. Gildas-de-Rhuys. Condemned for heresy by the Council of Sens, he retired to Cluny, where he lived a model life of asceticism and theological labor.
Beowulf and the Anglo-Saxons (01:03:34)Using 3-D animation, location footage, archive materials, and interviews, the Beowulf epic is examined in the light of the civilization that created it. It investigates the Anglo-Saxons' religious beliefs as well as their everyday life and suggests that, old as the poem is, it may have roots in an even more ancient fertility cult.
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: The Mystery of the Literary Masterpiece behind the Legend (01:10:18)In this fabled classic 14th-century romantic poem, Sir Gawain, a knight of King Arthur's Round Table, takes up the Green Knight's challenge to strike him with an axe if the challenger will take a return blow in a year and a day. Sir Gawain accepts and cleaves off the Green Knight's head expecting him to die, but the Green Knight picks up his head and reminds Gawain to meet him in a year and a day, which he does—and the adventure is only just beginning. This video takes a look at the poem as well as the people and places behind the prose, visiting actual places described and exploring the legend.
The Tale of Genji (58:10)Elegant and lyrical, The Tale of Genji—written by Murasaki Shikibu, considered by many to be the world’s first novelist—predates the seminal Don Quixote by an incredible 600 years. This extraordinarily beautiful program traces the plot, which centers on the romantic relationships of the noble hero Genji, through the panels of a series of illustrated hand scrolls dating from the early 12th century.
The Thousand and One Nights: Invitation to World Literature (26:14)Shahrazad must hold the interest of her despotic husband the sultan with nightly tales, lest she lose her life in the morning. This wellspring of storytelling, circulating from medieval Persia to Egypt to Iraq, like its wily raconteur, lives on in many modern adaptations. Art, performance, and film images are employed to show the collection's broad span of influence. Featured speakers include Marin Alsop, musical director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and Aly Jetha and Shabnam Rezai, co-producers of the 1001 Nights animated series.
Featured Performances & Readings
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Decameron Nights (01:25:34This 1953 film combines an adaptation of stories from Giovanni Boccaccio's bawdy medieval classic The Decameron with a storyline featuring the author himself. The film is known for its beautiful setting and overall visual appeal. Starring Joan Fontaine, Louis Jourdan, and Joan Collins.
PBS Beowulf Series (13 part series)Based on the complex protagonist of a classic poem written between the eighth and tenth century, Beowulf takes place in a mythological place, The Shieldlands, and challenges the notions of good and evil, heroes and villains, and the rule of law against one’s moral code.
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BeowulfThe warrior Beowulf must fight and defeat the monster Grendel who is terrorizing Denmark, and later, Grendel's mother, who begins killing out of revenge.
BeowulfStory of King Hrothgar, the monster Grendal and the hero Beowulf, one of Europe's greatest epics.