A new history animation for kids published online this week brought some childhood memories flooding back.
The 6½ minute video, ‘A glimpse of teenage life in ancient Rome’, introduces us to the world of Lucius Popidius Secundus, a 17-year old living in Rome in 73 AD.
The clip by Ray Laurence is part of the TED-Ed education initiative to produce “an online library of short, captivating videos that engage inquisitive learners all over the world,” and is animated by Cognitive Media.
I really hope a series of these develops which switches the internet generation onto history in the way that a certain cartoon captivated me, and a generation of primary (elementary) school kids around Europe and Asia, in the late 70s and early 80s.
‘Once Upon a Time… Man’ was a French animated TV series produced in 1978 which explained world history for children. The same characters reappeared in each episode living out snippets of lives as Neanderthals, Cro-Magnons, ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans, Vikings, Elizabethan English, both Pilgrim Fathers AND Native Americans, French Revolutionaries and WW1 soldiers, up to the (then) modern day and into an imagined future. The lynchpin was always Maestro, the eternal wise man with the massive white beard who usually appeared as the tribal elder, the adviser to the king, or the visionary inventor, along with the familiar cast of goodies and baddies. Best Supporting Role was by the Clock at the corner of the screen, which displayed the year when the events were occurring and had a character all of its own.
I recall it being essential viewing around 10 am during school holidays and just its opening credits (below) left me open-jawed and spellbound. To Johann Sebastian Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor, shortened to 1½ minutes, it runs through the Big Bang, the evolution of life, the ascent of man and the Earth’s destruction. It’s a kid’s classic, and the original inspiration for the stuff I like to blog about 30-odd years later.