The Mysterious Etruscans

Course No. 3421
Professor Steven L. Tuck, Ph.D.
Miami University
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Course No. 3421
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What Will You Learn?

  • Meet the Etruscans and see how they served as a conduit between the Greeks and the Romans.
  • Explore the Etruscan necropolis - a literal city of the dead - to learn about the afterlife, social class, and more.
  • Discover the innovations that we associate as being Roman were actually Etruscan, such as chariot races and architecture.
  • Review the role of women as priestesses, wives, mothers, and members of society at large in a culture ahead of its time.

Course Overview

How much do you know about the Etruscans? Many people, even those who are fascinated by ancient history, are less familiar with this intriguing culture than with the history of Greece and Rome—but the story of the Etruscans is equally captivating and far more important than you may have known. This ancient civilization prospered in the region of modern-day Tuscany, maintaining extensive trade networks, building impressive fortified cities, making exquisite art, and creating a culture that, while deeply connected to the Greeks and Romans, had striking contrasts.

The Etruscans were the original inhabitants of central Italy. Centuries before the rise of Rome, they built cities such as Pompeii, Capua, and Orvieto along fortified hilltops. They developed a system of roads and invented what we call the Roman arch. While they had their own system of government, their own myths and legends, and their own cultural attributes, the Etruscans imported and repurposed much from the Greeks—and, in turn, gave much to the Romans.

Etruscan culture acted as a conduit, transmitting Greek art, mythology, language, and cultural icons to Rome, but it also had many unique elements that the Romans later adopted. You might be surprised to find out how much of Roman civilization—from togas to bronze military armor to Rome itself—actually has Etruscan origins. The Etruscans are largely responsible for:

  • transmitting the alphabet, and therefore writing, to the Romans and other ancient societies as far away as the Nordic regions
  • granting Rome much of its celebrated architecture and infrastructure, from the Cloaca Maxima water-control system to the storied arch
  • developing exquisite works of bronze and terra-cotta, as well as mesmerizing tomb paintings
  • creating well-known symbols of republican government—imagery that still lives on in U.S. government buildings like the Lincoln Memorial
  • engaging in sports and spectacles such as chariot racing and gladiatorial combat

Without the Etruscans, much of what we associate with the Roman world, and thus the foundations of Western civilization, would largely disappear. The Mysterious Etruscans is your opportunity to discover this astounding culture and fill in a critical gap in your understanding of the ancient world. Taught by Dr. Steven Tuck, an award-winning Professor of Classics at Miami University, these 24 fascinating lectures give you an inside look into a seldom-studied but vitally important history.

Explore This Culture through Historical Detective Work

Little from Etruscan society remains unchanged, which means that to flesh out more than a bare-bones description, we must rely on deductions from the artworks, records, and tombs that survive. Part Sherlock Holmes, part CSI detective, Professor Tuck compiles the evidence to build the case for who the Etruscans were and what impact they made on the world around them. Over the course of his investigation, he considers questions such as:

  • Where did the Etruscans come from? Did they migrate to the region from Asia Minor, or were they autochthonous—that is, did they spring up in from the region itself? Consider the evidence from primary sources such as Herodotus and the Aeneid, and compare it to the results of modern DNA research.
  • What can we deduce from their tombs? Funeral practices are slow to change in any society, and therefore tell us much about how a civilization viewed itself in relation to the cosmos, as well as its cultural beliefs and priorities. Professor Tuck takes you inside the Etruscans’ famous “cities of the dead,” where you’ll discover a great deal about Etruscan culture among the living.
  • Was Rome actually an Etruscan city? The Etruscans built a number of city-states on fortified hills, much like the geography of Rome. Professor Tuck examines the rulers and customs of Rome, as well as its urban design, to show why it isn’t too far-fetched to suggest that the city actually has Etruscan origins.
  • Where did the Etruscans go? Because we know the Etruscans are no longer here, we might assume they gradually folded into Roman culture. Take a look at their final years as a distinct culture—and how the Romans appropriated and repurposed much of what was uniquely Etruscan.

Go Inside the Public and Private Lives of the Etruscans

Beyond their influence on Roman culture, the Etruscans are fascinating in their own right. Their family structures alone make them unique among ancient civilizations. For instance, unlike women in Greek or Roman societies, Etruscan women enjoyed relative equality with men—appearing in public and at social gatherings

One of the most popular forms of social entertainment was the banquet. The Etruscans held banquets to honor the dead, celebrate military victory, and worship the gods, among other reasons. As you’ll discover, other societies often viewed the Etruscans as decadent and immoral with all those women out in public, but the Etruscans had different—and, we might say, ahead of their time—cultural beliefs and priorities.

Although original Etruscan cities have largely been built over, Professor Tuck is able to take us inside their homes by looking at the current city foundations as well as the Etruscan necropolises—literal cities of the dead fashioned to mirror their cities for the living. This evidence gives us crucial insight into the Etruscans’ sophisticated family structure, as well as their views on children, religion, and more.

Gain a New Perspective on the Ancient World

The Etruscans built an impressive trade network across the Mediterranean. As such, they were able to import much from the Greeks, the Phoenicians, and other societies and bring it to central Italy and the Romans. One of the delights of this course is seeing how the Etruscans took cultural motifs from elsewhere, modified them, and made them their own. For example, you’ll see how they borrowed extensively from Greek mythology and adapted it for their own religious practices.

You’ll also see how Etruscan culture influenced the larger world around them. One dramatic example is their art, craftsmanship, and metalworking. Tomb paintings, portraits, terra-cotta vessels, and other pieces give us insight into the process of artistic creation and the way art reflects, and in some cases informs, society. Meanwhile, the Etruscan traditions of bronze sculptures, military armor, and more were picked up by the Romans and revived in the Renaissance.

Although they are too often ignored by today’s history enthusiasts, the Etruscans had complex religious, social, and governmental customs; built an incredible trade network; and created exquisite and advanced arts and architecture. Their stories may have been overshadowed by their outsized neighbors, but now, The Mysterious Etruscans gives you the chance to fill in those eye-opening details and learn about one of the most interesting civilizations omitted by the history books.

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24 lectures
 |  Average 31 minutes each
  • 1
    Between the Greeks and Romans
    Meet the Etruscans. Although you may not know much about them, this opening lecture quickly shows how they served as a conduit between the Greeks and the Romans, influencing much of what we think of as Western civilization. Begin by surveying their world to gain context for this mysterious people. x
  • 2
    Lost Cities of Tuscany
    Although Etruscan cities no longer survive, we can learn much by studying the geography and the foundations of cities that were built over the Etruscan developments. Explore three Etruscan cities to find out how they were designed, and see what urban development tells us about the people and their impact on future civilizations. x
  • 3
    Who Founded Rome?
    Much of Rome's geography, architecture, and artistic inscriptions suggest strong Etruscan influence. After discussing three Etruscan kings who ruled Rome, Professor Tuck reviews the evidence - particularly in some of the city's prominent temples - that Rome was, in fact, largely founded as an Etruscan city. x
  • 4
    Etruscan Cities of the Dead
    Step into the Etruscan necropolis - a literal city of the dead - which tells us much about how the culture viewed the afterlife, social class, and more. In this first of three lectures on the dead, you'll visit several ancient tombs to find out about how this mysterious people lived - and how their culture changed over time. x
  • 5
    Etruscan Burial and Mourning
    Funeral rites are some of the most conservative components of a culture. Because they change so slowly, we can learn much from looking at a society's funerals. Here, examine Etruscan tomb paintings to learn about their religious rituals, from which we can deduce much of their beliefs, cultural priorities, and more. x
  • 6
    Etruscan Afterlife
    Round out your study of the Etruscan view of the dead and the afterlife by examining wall paintings. Reflect on some of the key symbols around the transition from the living to the dead - including divers, underworld guides, and kings. Then consider how the Etruscan afterlife compared to Greek beliefs and mythology. x
  • 7
    Etruscan Gods and Goddesses
    Shift your attention from the afterlife to survey Etruscan gods and goddesses. Learn about their pantheon and see how their deities compare to Greek and Roman gods, and consider what these deities indicate about the Etruscan worldview. See how collective action among the deities mirrored the culture's government, family life, and more. x
  • 8
    Divination: The Will of the Gods
    One of the longest-lasting Etruscan legacies is divination, which had a profound influence on Rome. Venture into the Etruscan cosmos and find out how the interpretation of entrails, the flight of birds, and portents such as lightning strikes influenced their world. Then turn to blood sacrifices and other rituals designed to interpret the world and appease the gods. x
  • 9
    Sanctuaries and Sacred Places
    Sanctuaries reflect Etruscan religious beliefs and offer critical insight into their culture and politics. Examine the placement and design of several key sanctuaries, and contrast them with Greek temples. After reflecting on the geography of religious spaces, Professor Tuck turns to religious art and sculpture. x
  • 10
    Etruscan Myths, Legends, and Heroes
    While much of their art incorporates Greek elements - confusing archaeologists for decades - the Etruscans have their own distinct myths and legends. Here, delve into some of those stories and meet heroes such as the Vipinas brothers, who were a pair of folk heroes rooted in history. Explore the relationship between myth and history. x
  • 11
    Greek Myth: Etruscan Tombs and Temples
    Between the 7th and 3rd centuries BC, the Etruscans imported thousands of pieces of Greek pottery, and this ubiquity influenced much of their own art. Study the urns, tomb paintings, and other artworks to uncover how the Etruscans incorporated and reinterpreted Greek myths for their own purposes. x
  • 12
    Greek Myth: Etruscan Homes
    Continue your study of how Greek mythology influenced the Etruscans. Look at carvings, sculptural reliefs, bronze works, and other media that depict scenes from Greek myths. Examples include scenes from the Odyssey and the Iliad - adapted to Etruscan life in interesting ways. x
  • 13
    Etruscan Language and Literature
    The Etruscan language survives in more than 13,000 texts, from religious transcriptions on mummy linens to fascinating legal contracts written in stone. Because the Etruscans had a primarily oral culture, their writing tended to be analytical and straightforward, yet from it we can deduce much. x
  • 14
    Etruscan Government
    Reflect on the Etruscan form of government, which shifted from tyranny to a kind of city-state democracy. Examine some of the limitations of their democracy - especially in the realm of defense against Roman invaders. Then consider how much the Etruscan government and its symbols informed Rome, and therefore much of Western civilization. x
  • 15
    Etruscan Warriors and Warfare
    The Etruscan militaries were formidable, and their navies sailed around the Mediterranean, threatening many foreign settlements. Yet the military structure - or lack thereof - combined with a lack of any grand strategy, meant that the Etruscan military was more of a loose confederation than a unified force. Learn about their armor, battle tactics, and major confrontations. x
  • 16
    Mediterranean Artisans and Merchants
    Turn to the Etruscans' extensive trade network across the Mediterranean, and consider some of their imports from the Greeks and Phoenicians - including pottery, ivory, glass, and more. Reflect on arts and crafts such as Greek vases, terra-cotta vessels, and pottery, and find out what Etruscan imports and exports might tell us about their politics and society. x
  • 17
    Bronze, Terra-Cotta, and Portraiture
    Dig deeper into Etruscan artwork and go inside the world of bronze metalworking and the terra-cotta industry. Professor Tuck shows you the patterns to their art, traces the Greek influence, and surveys the Etruscan gift for portraiture. You'll study examples of their art and the techniques that went into making it. x
  • 18
    Etruscan Sports and Spectacles
    Sport and spectacle have long been part of human affairs. We associate gladiatorial combat with the Romans, but it actually originated with the Etruscans, who held such combats and chariot races as part of religious observances. Study the exciting world of Etruscan sports and find out the context surrounding different types of games. x
  • 19
    The Etruscan Banquet
    Banquets were the most significant social experience in the Etruscan world. Using tomb art as your guide, delve into the banquet world and see the customs for celebrating victories and observing religious events. You'll also learn about the inclusion of women in these public events - unique in the ancient world. x
  • 20
    Etruscan Women
    One stark contrast between Etruscan society and the Greek and Roman worlds is the relative equality of Etruscan women to men. They appeared in public and even danced and banqueted in mixed company, inspiring strident condemnation from foreign authors. Here, review the role of women as priestesses, wives, mothers, and members of society at large. x
  • 21
    Etruscan Families
    Relative equality between men and women extended to family life, as well. In this lecture, take a look at the Etruscan family structure and compare it to the Greeks, Romans, and Hebrews. Professor Tuck uses tombs, funerary markers, myths, and more to present a picture of the Etruscan family, gender roles, and the status of children. x
  • 22
    The Etruscan World Falls Apart
    Many people assume that Etruscan culture simply died after the rise of Rome, but in truth, the culture lived on several centuries into Roman rule. Trace the history of the Etruscans' final years, from the invasion of Rome to various resistance and revival movements to their eventual integration into the Roman world. x
  • 23
    Etruscan Legacy in the Roman World
    Tour Rome in the era of Augustus at the turn of the Common Era to reveal the Etruscans' influence on all things Roman. While Etruscan culture officially faded away, you'll see that without the Etruscans, Rome would lack many of its strongest attributes, from roads and bridges to military armor and togas to religion and sport. x
  • 24
    Where Have the Etruscans Gone?
    In this final lecture, you'll trace the influence of Etruscan art and architecture in the Renaissance, when many exports of Roman" culture were actually Etruscan. Then review what modern DNA research tells us about the origins and endings of the Etruscans - and the limits of our knowledge about this mysterious people even today." x

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  • Download 24 audio lectures to your computer or mobile app
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
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DVD Includes:
  • 24 Lectures on 4 DVDs
  • 183-page printed course guidebook
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Course Guidebook Details:
  • 183-page printed course guidebook
  • Defining Terms
  • Suggested Reading
  • Questions to Consider

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Your professor

Steven L. Tuck

About Your Professor

Steven L. Tuck, Ph.D.
Miami University
Professor Steven L. Tuck is Professor of Classics at Miami University. After earning his B.A. in History and Classics at Indiana University, he received his Ph.D. in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. He held the postdoctoral Arthur and Joyce Gordon Fellowship in Latin epigraphy at The Ohio State University. An esteemed teacher, Professor Tuck received the 2013 E. Phillips Knox Teaching Award,...
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Reviews

The Mysterious Etruscans is rated 4.3 out of 5 by 60.
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I knew very little about the Etruscans, and I thought that little was known about them in general. Well, I was wrong about that, there is enough known about them to fill a twelve hour course. Interesting facts, too!
Date published: 2018-08-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Oops! Love the course, but accidentally bought the audio version rather than the CD. I'll be watching for sales again!
Date published: 2018-07-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great coverage of these ancient people I learned so much from this course. I am very happy I bought the audio CDs.
Date published: 2018-05-27
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Some thoughts and ideas. This course could do with halving the number of lectures and then editing what is left. For example, Three lectures on Etruscan mythology is excessive and could be covered in one lecture. More needs to be made of the visual presentation. Watching a person read from an autocue is not value for money - I could do that, for half his fee! The reader gives many example of places and structures - as if we are familiar with them. Use the visual medium to show us photos and sketches. The recommended reading section is not realistic. From Amazon many lie between £70-£350 !!! We do not have access to free university libraries. How about including e-books - we pay enough for the courses.
Date published: 2018-02-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great, as usual I first experienced Professor Tuck from the Experiencing Rome course, which is spectacular, so, as so often is the case re. courses/professors, I followed his subsequent courses; and they have all been five star, always with humor (hey, who doesn't like humor), always with expertise, and I've come to realize, originality: and what I mean is, he will present theories of his own that sometimes, or many times, competes with the status quo; and guess what, he's the one who is correct, you can tell. He approaches history, as any good historian does, without arrogance, without dogma, but with the attitude of, "Well, we don't really know. But the evidence, or lack thereof, suggests..." And he does so sans ego. Watching his courses is truly like watching a friend talk to you about really interesting history. And the Etruscans - wow! They are so crucially important to the basis of Rome, so much so that the emperor Claudius, in the decades when he was a nobody, wrote a history of them (and a dictionary of their language), which is lost. But we have this course, thank goodness. And as with the other great courses from TTC, I will rewatch it in the future, like I have the other Roman and Greek courses, by Tuck, Fagan, McInerney, Fears; which is why these courses are so great, you can watch them over and over. I don't think I've ever spent money on dvds that have profited me so much...
Date published: 2018-02-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Should have got the DVD I liked the professor very much but wish I had bought the DVD, as he covered the Etruscan art often. I would have appreciated seeing what he was talking about. I tend to get the CD's because the DVD's usually don't have enough visuals. Now I'll have to buy a book to see the art.
Date published: 2018-01-31
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Lost Culture Particularly having spent 10 days in Rome, I found the idea that this culture predated and greatly influenced what I saw in Rome of real interest. The "cross-pollination" of Greek, Etruscan and Roman cultures is worth exploring.
Date published: 2018-01-20
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Sorry, we hoped for more. Having been to Italy and seen Etruscan art, we were anxious to learn more about these people who came before the Romans. But the class turned into a recital of Etruscan names. Come on, the teacher should be familiar with Etruscan names, but he stumbled over many of them. This was very distracting trying to follow the flow of the lectures. The class did not get me excited about the subject.
Date published: 2017-11-21
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Weak presentation This is my least favorite of the courses I bought, and I echo the comments of those who found the presentation lacking. On the other hand, it could just be that I made a mistake in buying the audio. The video might be more engaging.
Date published: 2017-11-17
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Sadly, This Topic is Still a Mystery I have always wondered about the period of history, people and events of the Pre-Roman empire region. As a history major I have done a fair amount of research and personal reading but very few really take the time to spend time with the Etruscans so this lecture was my attempt to get some new views or unearth some unknown facts. Sadly, the reason this topic and people are a mystery is due to lectures and professors who seem unable to make the topic interesting. This is not due to a lack of material, because the professor provided an abundance sources, but the delivery was poor and dare I say boring for large amounts of time. At times I felt as if I was listening to a boring tour guide through streets and architecture. Then when Prof. Tuck decided to touch on mythology he finds a way to kill some of the more rich and interesting narratives. Thankfully, there is more than enough history of these people to keep the subject moving; but the professor again does his best to miss the mark badly on his presentation. To be fair, I know Prof. Tuck is probably very passionate about this topic but his presentation leaves a ton to be desired. Perhaps with a better presentation and professor the mystery would be better understood but sadly it is a mystery why this topic was so uninteresting.
Date published: 2017-11-02
Rated 3 out of 5 by from It was an average course; the info was good but not detailed
Date published: 2017-09-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from very informative. Interesting topic Bought this in audio format and have been very pleased. Topic about which I only knew little, but was interested to know more. Happy with this purchase
Date published: 2017-09-01
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Should be More Interesting I expected great things from this course but have been somewhat disappointed. Try as he might, the professor just does not have the knack of making history come alive. This may be, in part, the fact that what we know about the Etruscans is gleaned from almost completely decayed architecture and ancient authors but it is also due to the wooden presentation and odd English usage of the professor. Also and most importantly, he does not use pictures or graphs or enough visual aids for a course like this. There are times when the verbiage cries out for a view of something even if it would be a modern picture of the ancient site. Some of these things don't exist anymore and I understand that but a current view of the site would help enliven the course.
Date published: 2017-07-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Fascinating! Like many people, I knew next to nothing about the Etruscans, and so, I found these lectures to be fascinating. There are some parts that confuse me though. For example, in the last lecture, lecture 24, Professor Tuck talks about how the discovery of the Chimera of Arezzo in 1553 inspired bronze sculpture in 15th century Tuscany. As an example he gives Donatello's David and then talks about Lorenzo Ghiberti (I think he meant Ghiberti though he seemed to say "Gioberti"). The 15th century is the 1400s and both Ghiberti and Donatello did work in the 15th century but that was before the discovery of the Chimera of Arezzo in the 16th century. Still, I'm very glad to have watched this course on a fascinating subject.
Date published: 2017-05-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Worth learning I've watched two dozen of The Great Courses in the last few years, and I knew nothing of Etruscans, but now having watched the DVDs, I feel a sense of familiarity with them. I may have learned more from these lectures than any other course. The lectures seem a perfect way to start studying the Roman Empire, and are broad enough to give a sense of Assyrian influence in the Mediterranean prior to the rise of Greek culture. Etruscans give us a window into traditional European culture, culture that survived The Empire, though their old language did not. What I have learned has changed my perspective.
Date published: 2017-05-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Fascinating and a great professor I have watched or listened to many history classes from the Great Courses. I've discovered that the classes typically fall into one of two categories: 1. Chronological Courses that are generally chronological for the given historical period with occasional digressions into social history and topical themes such as the role of women or religion during the time period; or 2. Topical Courses that have very little chronology but instead are primarily focused on social history and topical themes (again, such as the role of women or religion). Within the broader world of historiography, there is something of a divide between historians along these same lines as to how to present history. I will admit that I generally prefer the Chronological Courses. I prefer to approach a historic topic from the start of the time period through the end with a heavy emphasis on the political history and secondary emphasis on the social history. I will freely admit that this is a personal preference and both approaches have validity. This course very much falls into the Topical Courses category. There is very little chronology in this course. The focus is almost entirely social history. So, personally, this wasn't my favorite course just because of the approach the professor employed. That being said, I recognize this as an excellent course with a very enthusiastic and knowledgeable professor. While I don't feel like I gained much knowledge about the political history of the Etruscans (which is disappointing), I learned a lot about how they lived and influenced the broader Roman world.
Date published: 2017-04-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fascinating content Bought this to get an idea of people I had never heard of and am enthralled in learning more and more.
Date published: 2017-03-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Thorough treatment of a fascinating culture The Etruscans are known at least in passing by everyone interested in Roman history; they are a mysterious people and culture that I've always wanted to learn more about. Prof. Tuck delivers in his excellent course, The Mysterious Etruscans. The Etruscans founded Rome, at least in part; they neighbored Rome, fought with Rome, were conquered by Rome, and became part of Rome. This course covers it all. Prof. Tuck starts with geography and what we know of early Etruscan cities, tombs, and temples. He dives into Etruscan gods, rituals, language, government, and social life. I was amazed at the heavy influence of Ancient Greece on Etruscan culture, and the lasting and deep impact that Etruscan culture had on Rome. Overall this is a most enjoyable and insightful course. I took in on CD, which was fine, but many lecture describe in detail things such as the layout of ancient cities, the design of sanctuaries and temples, and art objects. Prof. Tuck does a great job painting a vivid word-picture, but seeing the illustrations and photos would be great. I will buy the video download and watch many lectures of this fascinating course again.
Date published: 2017-03-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from More than an Introduction My takeaway understanding from this course is that the Etruscans are not as mysterious as most people (me) used to think. They were an oral rather than a literary culture, and most of their stories were not written down, but there is plenty of material and historical evidence to help us understand them. Prof. Tuck goes into a lot of detail about this, definitely more than you would find in a typical introductory course. Organization: The course is organized by topic, not by chronology. I found this confusing, because many of the lectures jumped back and forth in time and it was hard to find an anchor. Comprehensibility: This varied greatly by lecture. Some (art, mythology) I had to rewind and review, more than once, others (#14, history) were a model of clarity. Lecturer: I enjoyed Prof. Tuck's jokes and contemporary references, but overall his manner was pretty stiff. Visuals: Too much camera time on the prof., and not enough camera time on the art. If I had to do again I would have probably bought just the audio. Overall: Definitely worth buying.
Date published: 2017-02-15
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Interesting material but poor presentation Of the five lecture series that I've purchased from TGC, this is the worst. The content is fascinating but the lecturer's presentation skills are so poor that I find myself either being distracted by his mistakes or my mind wandering because of the monotone nature of his delivery. I haven't finished the series yet...I bought another one on Mozart and am currently listening to that one.
Date published: 2017-02-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Title for this course. I am a life-long student of history, and anthropology and have long been fascinated by Etruscan civilization. Primarily because no matter where I looked there was scant information to to found other than a tomb discovery here and there in archaeological publications. I am delighted to come upon a survey type course loaded with information about this obscure civilization that while predating Rome's prominence in the Italian peninsula seems to have had major influences on Rome and other states a in the area .
Date published: 2017-02-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting perspective At first I was disappointed. I have had many courses about ancient history from the Teaching Company, and this did not seem to match up. Then I started to realize that this one had to be different. We do not know their language, we do not have th extensive documentation or commentary that we have for many ancient civilizations from around the Mediterranean. Before the course was over, Professor Tuck nicely drew together a very convincing story about the importance of the Etruscans and how our world would be very different without their existence, and especially how much of what we usually think we got from the Romans is actually from the Etruscans.
Date published: 2017-01-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Skilled Lecturer This course achieves a very good integration of imagery and lecture, although I found the subtitles somewhat distracting. The lecturer makes a concise, well-organized presentation of his material, and his gentle manner is quite pleasant. I had studied classics and always felt that the Etruscans were somewhat neglected in traditional texts on the ancient world, but this course made their contribution to the development of Rome abundantly clear. I also had not realized how extensively the Etruscans had been influenced by the Greeks, but this course provided considerable detail on that topic. Overall, this is an excellent course on a neglected topic.
Date published: 2017-01-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A surprising culture This course makes the Etruscans a lot less "mysterious" and a lot more innovative than I had realized. The lectures are well-organized and brimming with content. Unfortunately, the Etruscans left no history or literature, so the primary sources of information are archeology, art works, and comments by later authors, primarily Roman. Consequently, the course isn't structured as a narrative history. Rather, Professor Tuck pieces together information about the Etruscan's culture, social life, and religion primarily from archeological data. Little narrative. This, combined with his dry, circumspect manner of presentation, make the lectures less immediately engaging than those of some other Great Courses. On the other hand, The Mysterious Etruscans is a gem if you really want to learn in-depth about this underappreciated civilization.
Date published: 2016-12-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Discover the Etruscans While living in Italy I attempted to garner information on the Etruscans. While there is information available it was near impossible for me to put the Etruscans in perspective of the Romans. This course pulls together lots of the information and puts the Etruscans in more perspective as the shapers of Roman culture and even that of modern Italy. This course met most of my expectations. I would have appreciated more on the Etruscan language, writing and alphabet. Yet that is something I will have to research on my own. I had this course in my wish list for over a year and finally purchased it. I like this course and thought it worthwhile and informative. Thank you!
Date published: 2016-11-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Professor Steven L. Tuck This is one of a number of courses that I have purchased featuring Professor Steven L. Tuck. He is excellent. His knowledge is encyclopedic and he weaves his material into a coherent and relevant whole. He also has an excellent and sometimes self deprecating sense of humour. In taking a number of his interrelated courses, one gets a broad perspective of the ancient world.
Date published: 2016-10-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Entrancing I found this course, and the Etruscans as they were revealed by it, entrancing. The aristocrats who built the family tombs excavated by archaeologists lived wonderful lives--until the Romans began picking them off, one city-state at a time. Their lives appear to be so much like ours that it requires some distancing of ourselves from them to realize how different they were from the other peoples of the ancient Mediterranean. Unlike those, the Etruscans had family names, companionate marriages, ownership of property by women, wives who kept their own family names rather than taking those of their husbands, openness about sexuality--perhaps even homosexual marriages, women warriors and househusbands. By contrast, they had no military organization to speak of, much less our military-industrial complex, although they were quite good at making swords. The aristocratic lords who depicted themselves in the tombs insisted on fighting at the head of their own bands of tenants and submitted to no higher command, military or political. They were no match for the Roman legions. I listened to this course on audio CDs, but after each lecture I easily found images on the internet of the works of art that the professor had referred to as sources of information about Etruscan life and mythology. Consequently I would recommend any version of this course.
Date published: 2016-08-30
Rated 3 out of 5 by from More Sociology Than History, Partly Unavoidably I largely agree with TheWaywardAugustine’s review, and share his regret that this course is more sociology than history, though of course the lack of evidence makes a full traditional history impossible. I do think this wasn’t all due to necessity, and that somewhat more respect could have been paid to chronology. Contrariwise, I also agree with BGZRedux that Professor Tuck is often more specific than the evidence warrants, though the examples I could detect were necessarily (given my own ignorance) largely in other fields: • In cataloging innovations due to the Etruscans, knowledge of the Platonic solids hardly justifies reassigning credit for all of science from the Greeks to the Etruscans. • Similarly, the late date of the discovery of the Chimera of Arezzo, 1553, precludes assigning so much influence on the Renaissance. • Professor Tuck seems far too precise about the date of the Iliad.
Date published: 2016-07-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Revelation I'd always thought the Etruscans were a mysterious, unimportant part of Roman history and never had any interest in knowing more. I was astounded to learn that almost everything we think of as a Roman invention came from the Etruscans. There were some lectures I skipped halfway through because it was more than I was really interested in, but the last one is especially important to summarize why we owe much of civilization to them.
Date published: 2016-07-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very interesting This is a great topic. The course started out a bit slow but gained momentum and finished strong. Worth the value.
Date published: 2016-06-13
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