Our Getty Villa Museum curators may not be in the same room as the antiquities they care for right now, but they are still immersed in the world of ancient civilizations. Here are their personal recommendations for what you can watch, listen to, and read. In addition, check out our new online exhibition of the Egyptian Book of the Dead manuscripts, a just-published catalog of ancient panel paintings, and a podcast episode on the legacies of Pliny the Elder and his nephew.


  Beowulf: A New Translation by Maria Dahvana Headley

Women of Classical Fiction

Curator Nicole Budrovich recommends this free online panel discussion on recent translations of classics, hosted by New York's Center for Fiction. "Radical Translations features three authors with fresh perspectives on centuries-old texts—Maria Dahvana Headley, who just published Beowulf: A New Translation, Emily Wilson, the first woman to translateThe Odyssey into English, and Madeline Miller, author of Song of Achilles and, my personal favorite, Circe. With such a powerhouse of authors, the discussion will certainly be lively. I'm especially looking forward to connections between the worlds of Homer and Beowulf—another epic where a feminist lens helps us see familiar heroes in a new light."

Wednesday, September 16, 2020
4:30 PM PT (7:30 PM EDT)

Free to register »


  Hosts John Hodgman and Elliott Kalan of I, Podius

I, Podius

Nicole also suggests listening to I, Podius a 12-episode weekly podcast recapping the classic 1976 BBC miniseries, I, Claudius, based on novels by Robert Graves. "Hosted by John Hodgman and Elliott Kalan, with just the right amount of giddy irreverence and genuine admiration, it's a hilarious way to re-live (or discover) the classic show and learn some fun facts about ancient Rome, the imperial family, and the careers of the star-studded cast."

Learn more »


  Gods and Robots: Machines, Myths, and Ancient Dreams of Technology by Adrienne Mayor

Ancient AI

Millennia before engineering or software, robots and artificial intelligence were brought to life in Greek myths. Curator Claire Lyons recommends the book Gods and Robots: Machines, Myths, and Ancient Dreams of Technology by Stanford historian and folklorist Adrienne Mayor. Lyons notes, "Mayor is always good value for thought-provoking takes on antiquity. Her latest book investigates ancient automata and artificial life in myth, art and technology. Among the many objects illustrated, she features the Getty Villa's gem showing Prometheus making a man. It's fascinating when a scholar from another field looks at our objects from an entirely different perspective and makes unexpected connections."

Buy the book »

Watch Mayor deliver a lecture at the Long
Now Foundation »


  Pompeii Archaeological Park Director Massimo Osanna narrates a tour of two excavated Pompeiian homes.

Flying Through Pompeii

Care to visit Pompeii without the crowds? Curator Judith Barr suggests a tour via fantastic drone footage. "Pompeii Archaeological Park director Massimo Osanna takes you on a brisk, seven-minute tour through ancient gardens, brilliant and bright fresco finds, and a mosaic of a cobra and the myth of the hunter Orion." (In Italian, with an English transcript available.)

Take a virtual tour »


  Fragmentary Papyrus with Spells and Vignettes from the Book of the Dead (detail), 304—30 B.C., Egypt, Papyrus and ink. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Villa Collection, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. H. P. Kraus

Egyptian Book of the Dead

A knife-throwing snake, secret passwords, and sun hymns are found in this new online exhibition of the Getty Museum's fascinating manuscripts from the Egyptian Book of the Dead. This collection of 200 funerary spells written in hieroglyphs helped guide the deceased to unite with the god of the dead, Osiris. Due to their fragility, the delicate papyri and mummy wrappings in this exhibit have never been on display, but you can now see them up-close for the first time.

Explore exhibit »


  Jacket design by Steve Attardo. Jacket art: Eruption of the Vesuvius in December 1820, 1826 (oil on canvas) by Johan Christian Clausen / Dahl © Stadel Museum — Arthothek, Frankfurt Am Main. Photo: © Alice Dunn

The Shadow of Vesuvius: A Life of Pliny

In the year 79, Pliny the Elder set out to investigate a large cloud of ash rising in the sky above the Bay of Naples. It was the eruption of Vesuvius, and Pliny did not survive. But his nephew's written account remains a fascinating document. For Getty's Art and Ideas podcast this month, Daisy Dunn, classicist and author of The Shadow of Vesuvius: A Life of Pliny, and Kenneth Lapatin, curator of antiquities at the Getty Museum, discuss the two Plinys and their profound impact on our understanding of ancient Rome.

Transcript and link to the podcast »


  Mummy Portraits of Roman Egypt: Emerging Research from the APPEAR Project

Ancient Romano-Egyptian Panel Paintings

Nearly a thousand funerary portraits from Roman Egypt survive today in museums around the world. This new publication offers the most up-to-date information available about these fascinating remnants from an international collaboration called APPEAR (Ancient Panel Paintings: Examination, Analysis, and Research), which promotes the study of these objects and gathers scientific and historical findings into a shared database. Edited by Marie Svoboda, antiquities conservator at the Getty Villa Museum, and Caroline Cartwright, senior scientist at the British Museum.

See Online Edition »

Buy the book »


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The Getty Villa is an educational center and museum dedicated to the study of the arts and cultures of ancient Greece, Rome, and Etruria. Public and scholarly programs at the Villa include lectures, seminars, workshops, and symposia, and complement the interdisciplinary activities of the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Getty Research Institute, the Getty Conservation Institute, and the Getty Foundation. The permanent collections of the Museum and the Research Institute, changing exhibitions, the annual scholar research theme, conservation issues, theater productions, and research projects inspire programs for scholars, students, specialized professionals, and general audiences.