In 1914, the suffragette Mary Richardson viciously attacked Diego Velázquez’ painting known as the Rokeby Venus at the National Gallery in London. But why had this painting caused her to commit such an act? Professor Bettany Hughes embarks on a voyage of discovery, travelling across the Ancient Mediterranean and Middle East to reveal the truth about the real Venus depicted in the painting, proving that this mythological figure is so much more than an excuse for sensual nudity and chocolate box romance. Venus Uncovered is the remarkable story of one of antiquity’s most potent forces. Hers is the story of human desire, and how that desire transforms who we are and how we behave.
Bettany explores Venus’ eastern origins in Jordan, uncovers seldom seen prehistoric depictions of the goddess in Cyprus, and learns how the might of Rome was tied directly to Venus in Rome. Through ancient art, evocative myth, archaeological revelation and philosophical explorations Bettany reveals how this immortal goddess endures in the 21st century, and what her story reveals about what matters to us as humans. As she uncovers Venus, Bettany shows us why we still need to care about this primordial companion to human experience – and how we trivialise her power at our peril.
Scheduled on BBC World News on Saturday, 11th November at 10.40 pm and Sunday 9.40 am and 3.40 pm