Ancient and modernrss

Lessons for Red Len

23 May 2015

With Len McCluskey, general secretary of the union Unite, keen to ensure ‘his’ members choose the next Labour leader, and the rail union RMT planning a full-blown strike, the trade… Read more

Cicero’s advice for defeated politicians (Alastair Campbell, take note)

16 May 2015

The great Robert Harris has defended the pollsters who got the elections so wrong by quoting Cicero on the electorate’s fickleness. Cicero certainly acknowledged the problem when he was defending… Read more

Athenians didn’t need coalition negotiations. We should learn from them

9 May 2015

Whatever the result of the election, it has become clearer by the day that our ‘democracy’ is run by politicians not in the interests of the dêmos but of themselves.… Read more

The ‘start-up cities’ of Ancient Greece

2 May 2015

Honduras wants to establish start-up cities to experiment with alternative economic, regulatory, and legal systems. Could this concept help stop mass migration into Europe? Ancient Greeks, living in a time… Read more

Plutarch and Aristotle vs Lynton Crosby

25 April 2015

Attack Ed Miliband and sing up the long-term economic plan: that is the now obviously useless scheme devised by the Tory party’s strategy adviser Lynton Crosby, against the best advice… Read more

Demosthenes vs Michael Fallon

18 April 2015

Secretary of State for Defence Michael Fallon’s claim that Ed Miliband, having practised on his brother, would also stab his country in the back by not renewing Trident has not… Read more

How to vote like Hercules

11 April 2015

To judge from elections, the purpose of politics is to win power by promising to make people better off. Plato, feeling this made the politician the equivalent of a procurer… Read more

The fall of the Roman republic and the rise of Alex Salmond

4 April 2015

Alex Salmond, the ex-first minister who proved incapable of making Scotland independent, has assured the world that he and his handful of SNP MPs will force Westminster to dance to… Read more

When Rome’s 99 per cent stood up

28 March 2015

In the UK the richest 1 per cent — 300,000 — of the working population control 23 per cent of the nation’s total wealth. Austerity and cuts loom. Oxfam says… Read more

Allah, Zeus and the Church of England

21 March 2015

A ‘prominent liberal cleric’ in London has held an Islamic prayer service in his church, St John’s Waterloo. ‘We all share these traditions,’ he announced, ‘so let us celebrate our… Read more

The Green party isn’t nearly tough enough on Ancient Greece

14 March 2015

The Green party’s manifesto appears to make saving the planet only a small element in its otherwise painfully unoriginal agenda. This is a pity. People have been wreaking environmental havoc… Read more

Cicero’s advice for Sir Malcolm Rifkind and Jack Straw

7 March 2015

In responding as they did to the Daily Telegraph ‘sting’, Jack Straw and Sir Malcolm Rifkind may well have done nothing wrong by the letter of parliamentary law. But people’s… Read more

An Alternative View Of The Labour Party Annual Conference

Today’s TV debates are pointless – here’s the real thing

28 February 2015

Ancients would have been astonished that parties never debate against each other in open, public forum except on the telly before general elections — and even then they do their best… Read more

Julius Caesar could teach Isis a thing or two

21 February 2015

Isis disseminates videos of beheaded captives to spread simple terror. Julius Caesar knew all about it. In his diaries of his conquest of Gaul (58–51 bc), he constantly acknowledges the… Read more

What Cicero knew that David Davis doesn't

14 February 2015

The MP David Davis has lamented that the British seem to prefer laws that protect their security rather than guard their liberty. But the first duty of the state is… Read more

The Magna Carta was hopelessly behind the times

7 February 2015

Important as the Magna Carta (ad 1215) has been as a founding myth for everything we hold dear about law and liberty, it was already hopelessly behind the times. Greeks… Read more

Natasha Parry and Gary Raymond, in costume for the controversial play 'Lysistrata', at the Duke of York Theatre, London, March 5th 1958 (Photo: Edward Miller/Keystone/Getty)

Syriza could have learned from Aristophanes. Instead it's headed for Greek tragedy

31 January 2015

The German chancellor Angela Merkel has expressed her desire for Greece to remain part of the European ‘story’. Since Greeks — together with the Romans and Jews — actually created that story… Read more

Socrates, Aristophanes and Charlie Hebdo

24 January 2015

What would the ancients have made of Charlie Hebdo? The First Amendment tolerates the expression of opinions, however offensive, but not behaviour that can be construed as an outright threat.… Read more

Ched Evans: law vs people power

17 January 2015

‘This was the rule for men that Zeus established: whereas fish, beasts and birds eat each other, since there is no law among them, to men he gave law, which… Read more

What MPs need is an oath with consequences

10 January 2015

Before taking their seats in Parliament, all MPs must swear an oath of allegiance to the Queen. Mark Durkan, MP for Foyle in Northern Ireland, recently suggested that they should… Read more

An ancient Olympic tradition that Fifa would love

3 January 2015

Those nice people at Fifa seem to be having a terrible time from the British press, which never stops accusing them of bribery and corruption. What on earth is our… Read more


How the Romans taught Latin (N.M. Gwynne would not approve)

13 December 2014

Barely a week passes without someone complaining about the teaching of English or foreign languages, usually because it involves too much, or too little, grammar. The ancients also had to… Read more

Aristotle had David Mellor’s number (Andrew Mitchell’s, too)

6 December 2014

Andrew Mitchell and his ‘effing pleb’ of a policeman, David Mellor and his ‘stupid sweaty little shit of a taxi driver’ — Aristotle would have been delighted at how precisely… Read more

Nicky Morgan vs Socrates

29 November 2014

After the Philae space-lab’s triumph, one can see why Education Secretary Nicky Morgan should have hymned the ‘Stem’ subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths). At the heart of our service industries, they… Read more

Aristophanes on Mazher Mahmood

22 November 2014

Undercover journalist Mazher Mahmood, otherwise known as the Fake Sheikh, has been accused of dodgy dealing in luring the innocent to commit ‘crimes’ which he has then exposed to the… Read more