Ancient and modernrss

How to tell if Jeremy Corbyn is a proper republican

29 August 2015

True to his antique, bearded ideology, guru Corbyn is a ‘republican’, a form of government invented 2,500 years ago. ‘Republic’ derives from the Latin res publica — ‘people’s property, business’… Read more

What Tacitus would have made of the Heath rumours

22 August 2015

The press and police have been condemned for the way they fall on mere rumour and plaster it across the headlines, Sir Edward Heath’s ‘paedophilia’ being the latest example. The… Read more

Tips for Boris from imperial Rome

15 August 2015

While the Labour party rakes over its past in an effort to find a policy for its future, the commentators continue to speculate about Boris’s role, if any, in a… Read more

Does Labour need a new name? Let’s ask Plato

8 August 2015

In order to make a sensible choice of new leader, the Labour party is trying to work out what its ‘core values’ are. Perhaps it would be helpful to begin… Read more

Aristotle wouldn't have rated Jeremy Corbyn’s fan club

1 August 2015

Jeremy Corbyn says he is very excited about his campaign to become Labour leader because lots of young people are becoming involved in it, which ‘must be a good thing’.… Read more

Vespasian’s Middle East policy (it should be ours, too)

25 July 2015

As Ahmed Rashid argued last week, it is hard to see what the West is doing in the Middle East, occasionally dropping bombs on Isis, whose effect may well be… Read more

Ancient and Modern: Juvenal and Cicero on whether grunting has a place in sport

18 July 2015

What a pleasure it was to watch the men’s final at Wimbledon contested with a minimum of grunting, exclaiming and gesticulation. Romans would have approved. It was well known that… Read more


Alexis Tsipras is just doing what an ancient Athenian would

11 July 2015

The EU finds it difficult to understand what drives the Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. Quite simply, he is a fifth-century bc Athenian democrat living in a 21st-century oligarchic world.… Read more

How Solon would have solved the Greek crisis

4 July 2015

The combination of terror and outrage with which Brussels has greeted Greek Prime Minister Tsipras’s referendum tells us everything we ever needed to know about the EU, i.e. stuff the… Read more

Why Hesiod would have gone for Grexit

27 June 2015

Why do Greeks want to keep the euro, or remain in the European Union? The combative, creative, competitive, mercantile classical Greeks throve on independence. The farmer-poet Hesiod (c. 700 BC)… Read more

What Aristotle would have made of Cambridge’s Lego-sponsored professor

20 June 2015

So Cambridge University has accepted £4 million from the makers of Lego (snort) to fund a Lego chair (Argos sells a kit at £8.99) and a research centre into the… Read more

What Tacitus would have made of the applause at Fifa

13 June 2015

Apparently Fifa emperor Sepp Blatter received a ten-minute standing ovation from his 400 staff when he addressed them after his resignation. But why? Were they expressing sorrow at his departure?… Read more

Pliny the Younger on Fifa

6 June 2015

In any huge enterprise (like Fifa), where does the rot begin? Pliny the Younger mused on this question in a letter to a friend about a games festival held in… Read more

The northern powerhouses of ancient Turkey

30 May 2015

Government claims that it will ‘free’ northern cities to turn themselves into ‘powerhouses’. Since most of them are held by Labour, this is obviously nonsense. The tedious tribal backbiting and recriminations… Read more


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