Odysseus’ Journey and His Women

Oct 7, 2020 | Announcements, News & Media

Award-winning historian, author and broadcaster Bettany Hughes to deliver Ramsay Lecture

Sydney, Wednesday 07 October 2020: The Ramsay Centre is proud to announce that historian, author and broadcaster Bettany Hughes, whose television documentaries have been seen by more than 250 million people worldwide, will deliver the fourth Ramsay Lecture for 2020.

Professor Hughes is a specialist in ancient and mediaeval history and culture. A few months ago, in the ‘time before Covid’, she “…had the bright idea to follow in the footsteps of the ancient Greek warrior and hero – wily Odysseus – or rather to follow his watery trail across the Eastern Mediterranean – emulating his fateful voyage home from the Battelefields of Troy to his own Island of Ithaka in Western Greece.”

In her Ramsay Lecture, “Odysseus Journey and His Women” to be broadcast on October 28, she recalls how she made this real-life Odyssey, with a small crew, on various vessels, by boat and sailboat – and the incredible lessons she learnt about what Odysseus’ actual touchstone, heroic quest journey could have been like.

She discusses archaelogy that helps us understand “…that remarkable Bronze Age world.. which gave birth to civilisation as we know it.” And she explores why historical myths still matter, revealing “…how true it is that Odysseus and the other characters of ancient myth and history, are travelling with us, all the time in the 21st century.”

In her voyage, Bettany also pays particular attention to Odysseus’ women; looking at what the social status, treatment and myths around women tell us about that period. Examining archaeological evidence, she describes an age that was “…not by any means some kind of proto-feminist wonderland”, but where some women do have status and standing.

“This was an age of heroines as well as heroes,” she claims. However the ‘precious’ consideration of women did have a horrific consequence, as Bettany investigates evidence of virgin sacrifice.

Professor Bettany Hughes is an award-winning historian, author and broadcaster. A Scholar at Oxford University she has taught at Oxford and Cambridge Universities and lectured at Cornell, Bristol, UCL, Maastricht, Utrecht, Manchester and Swansea. She is a Tutor for Cambridge University’s Institute of Continuing Education, a Research Fellow of King’s College London and recently joined the New College of the Humanities as Professor of History. 

Her first book Helen of Troy: Goddess, Princess, Whore has been translated into ten languages. Her second, The Hemlock Cup, Socrates, Athens and the Search for the Good Life was a New York Times bestseller and was shortlisted for the Writer’s Guild Award. Her latest book Istanbul – A Tale of Three Cities was shortlisted for the Runciman Award and was a Sunday Times bestseller. Istanbul A Tale of Three Cities has already been translated into twelve languages.

She has written and presented over 50 TV and radio documentaries for the BBC, Channel 4, Netflix, Discovery, PBS, The History Channel, National Geographic, BBC World and ITV. Her programmes have now been seen by over 250 million worldwide. 

The Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation was created with an endowment from the late Paul Ramsay AO, founder of Ramsay Health Care, to promote a deeper understanding of western civilisation.

The Ramsay Lecture series hosts speakers from all walks of life who have important and interesting perspectives relating to the world and our western heritage.

Due to COVID-19 Professor Bettany Hughes’ lecture is recorded. It will be available via our website www.ramsaycentre.org on Wednesday 28 October.

Media contact: Sarah Switzer 0407 816 98 / sarah.switzer@ramsaycentre.org