Helen of Troy had never been the subject of a serious study until Bettany Hughes's Helen of Troy: Goddess, Princess, Whore. Now the historian of the classical world is coming out with a C4 series on the subject. Hughes tells me she has had to bear many a slight from older, male academics who cannot conceive of a good-looking woman discussing the ruins of a late Bronze Age temple. But she had hoped that the battle of the sexes would remain cerebral. Not quite.
When Hughes decided to investigate Bronze Age wrestling, she relied on a group of body-building archaeology enthusiasts, all from Sparta. And therein lay the problem. In her preceding series, on Sparta, Hughes had explained how Spartan men practised homosexuality.
This was deemed unacceptable by the unreconstructed machos who, while purportedly showing Hughes the holds of contact sport, took great pleasure in throwing the petite historian to the floor.