With the BBC Atlantis series having drawn to a close only the other week, I want to reflect a bit on what I thought of the series. Watching as a Classicist, it was a fairly mixed reaction to what I thought was some fairly good research into certain elements of the ancient world, combined with near disregard for Classical myths and the mashing of Greek, Roman and Minoan cultures.
Something that impressed me with the series was the level of research into the ancient world, which was apparent in several of the episodes and scenes. There is evidence of bull leaping in Minoan culture, as this fresco shows. The show has a strong Minoan theme running throughout, for example the image of the bull in the temple, and the double headed axe carving behind the throne. Another example of this research is when Minos pours a libation to Artemis at a feast, something for which there is plenty of literary evidence in Homer's Odyssey, which helped ground the series in the ancient world.
The way that the Atlantis series draws its characters from a wide variety of Classical myths is also something which I greatly disliked about it. For a start, Jason, Hercules and Pythagoras could never meet, since the first two were mythical and the latter real. Into this rather strange mix are thrown a number of other characters, most notably Medusa, and it feels very much like the producers were trying to fit every famous name in for the sake of doing so. The same can be said of the plots in the episode, which more often than not rely on taking a Classical myth and replacing the key character with Jason and his friends. While it's certainly good that the ancient world and it's beliefs are getting attention, without a background in this area it would be rather difficult to separate the original from the more modern additions.
Thank you for reading, and feel free to let me know what you thought of the series!