THE REAL DRACULA ventures into the mists of history to chronicle the exploits of the 15th century prince known as Vlad the Impaler. Ruling from a mountain fortress reached by a stairway of 1400 steps, Vlad was a sadist of unimaginable proportions. Legends say that he impaled hundreds of his enemies on stakes in the plain below his castle, then took lunch surrounded by the grisly ""forest"" of his victims, dipping his bread in their blood! Bram Stoker, in writing his classic 1897 novel Dracula, took Vlad as his model for the vampire who has become a cultural icon throughout the Western World.
The Assyrians were the first people to employ a standing army, using recruits from conquered nations to put 200,000 men in the field. The Assyrians' best-known development was their use of two-wheeled chariots and cavalry.
On the 7th December 1941 Japan launched surprise attacks across the Pacific region, setting battleships ablaze in Pearl Harbor, then routing the British in Malaya and capturing Singapore itself the greatest humiliation in British war history. The Japanese now seemed unstoppable and after being at war with China for a decade, and shocking the world with atrocities like the Nanking Massacre, they believed their destiny was to rule Asia under the Emperor.
This program sets out to trace the origins of the tribes that brought this epic into being, the war-like Northmen from Sweden, Denmark and Germany who were to conquer and settle regions of a more clement and fertile island that would become known as England, named after the tribe of the Angles. The Beowulf epic is examined in the light of the civilization that created it. It investigates their religious beliefs as well as their everyday life, and suggests that, old as the poem is, it may have roots in an even more ancient fertility cult.
So what happened to these Gods? Do powerful faiths just vanish? Can Gods die? Are these once sacred sites the final resting places for long-lost religions? And how can people who believed in so many deities for so long come to believe in just one and sweep the others to extinction?
Delicious, delectable, soothing and, yes, American. Chocolate was a New World discovery, one of the most sought-after treasures brought back to Europe from the brave new land across the Atlantic. Cacao, from which chocolate is created, is said to have originated in the Amazon at least 4,000 years ago. The Aztecs were so enthralled with the bean that they attributed its creation to their god Quetzalcoatl who, as the legend goes descended from heaven on a beam of a morning star carrying a cacao tree stolen from paradise. In fact, the Aztecs valued the cacao bean so much that they used it as currency.