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Old 5th July 2005   #1
Join Date: July 2005
Posts: 1,784
Default The Medici and the heresy of beauty

(Originally posted on The Judgment of Paris Forum, February 17, 2004.)

Surprise, surprise. In addition to the occasional commercial featuring a plus-size model, there is at least one program on television right now that is actually worth watching.

From the good people at PBS comes The Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance, a series examining several centuries of European history though the perspective of one of Italy's most influential dynasties.

The term "Godfathers" in the title refers to exactly what you think it does. The program uses the conventions of a staple of popular culture--the "mafia family" film--to raise viewers' interest in a historical subject. But, as anyone who has even a passing acquaintance with European history knows, the exploits of fictional families like the Corleones pale in comparison to the real-life accomplishments of the great Medici dynasty, and the historical events that are covered by this series are far more thrilling, and bloody, than anything that one might find in a Coppola film.

So what does this series have to do with the topic of this forum? Everything. We have often likened the growing appreciation for timeless feminine beauty in today's culture to the Renaissance of Classical art that originated in Florence in the 15th century. And this television series illustrates, in an entertaining and accessible way, the vital role played by the Medici in bringing about that period of cultural rebirth.

The second episode in the series chronicles how Lorenzo de Medici, the family's