|2005 UK In Search of Myths and Heroes|
The Queen of Sheba - an exotic and mysterious woman of power - is immortalised in the world's great religious works, among them the Hebrew Bible and the Muslim Koran. She also appears in Turkish and Persian painting, in Kabbalistic treatises, and in medieval Christian mystical works, where she is viewed as the embodiment of Divine Wisdom and a foreteller of the cult of the Holy Cross. In Africa and Arabia her tale is still told to this day and, indeed, her tale has been told and retold in many lands for nearly 3,000 years.
Trying to ascertain who she may really have been is an arduous task, and a question soon arises. Why, if so little is known about her, has she become such an important figure?
The tales of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba have, after all, even provided the founding myths for the modern states of Israel and Ethiopia.
For centuries, man has yearned for an earthly paradise, and no place better encapsulates this desire than Shangri-La - but was it ever real?
The tale of an earthly paradise is among the most enduring myths in the world. From Sumerian epic to the 'islands of the blest' in Celtic literature, it has been a recurring theme through many bodies of literature and for thousands of years. Not surprisingly, then, modern people have also been drawn to the dream of a lost paradise where the ravages of time and history have been held back, where human beings live in harmony with nature, and where the wisdom of the planet is saved for future generations. In other words, to a Shangri-La.
Jason and the Golden Fleece
The Greek tale of Jason and the Golden Fleece has been told for 3,000 years. It's a classic hero's quest tale - a sort of ancient Greek mission impossible - in which the hero embarks on a sea voyage into an unknown land, with a great task to achieve. He is in search of a magical ram's fleece, which he has to find in order to reclaim his father's kingdom of Iolkos from the usurper King Pelias.
Michael Wood discovers a story of heroism, treachery, love and tragedy that would make Hollywood proud.
The fantastical tale of King Arthur, the hero warrior, is one of the great themes of British literature. But was it just invented to restore British pride after the Norman invasion? Michael Wood puts the king in the spotlight.