Delphi: Bellybutton of the Ancient World

BBC4 (1 x 60 mins)

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What really went on at the ancient Greek oracle at Delphi? How did it get its awesome reputation? And why is it still influential today?

Michael Scott of Cambridge University uncovers the secrets of the most famous oracle in the Ancient World. A vital force in ancient history for a thousand years, it's now one of Greece's most beautiful tourist sites, but in its time it has been a gateway into the supernatural, a cockpit of political conflict, and a beacon for internationalism. And at its heart was the famous inscription which still inspires visitors today: "Know Thyself"

"Almost exactly a month ago I was in Greece for 4 days - first, being filmed by the BBC, then receiving an honorary degree - in Economics (what else…). The documentary's for BBC4, on ideas and practices of luxury in ancient Greece (including Macedonia), and its star is by no means me, but my Darwin College colleague Michael Scott who - with the same team - made what I think's one of the very best ancient-historical TV documentaries of recent times, on Delphi, first shown late last year. Philip Hooker, a modern Maecenas - in the most recent bulletin of his regular, extraordinarily well informed CA News feature 'Classics in the Media' - rightly called Michael 'a dashing young media don'. Now, I'm very well aware of the limitations as well as the strengths of TV as a medium for Classics promotion (witness: the recent Santorini-Thera 'drama-doc' aaaargh), but when it gets it right, as here, it can I think have only a positive, beneficial effect..."

Professor Paul Cartledge, President of the Joint Association of Classical Teachers, May 2011