Ancient and modernrss

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

The lesson of Athens: to make people care about politics, give them real power

15 November 2014

Voters explain their apathy about politics on the grounds that the politicians do not understand them. No surprise there, an ancient Greek would say, since the electorate does not actually… Read more

Image: Getty

No, Richard Branson, our greatest achievements don’t come from our greatest pain

8 November 2014

Explaining the death of a pilot testing a Virgin Galactic rocket-ship, Sir Richard Branson intoned: ‘I truly believe that humanity’s greatest achievements come out of the greatest pain.’ The ancients… Read more

(Photo: Getty)

Forget Ukip – what we need is some ostracisms

1 November 2014

For all Nigel Farage’s appealing bluster, he is never going to be in a position to get us out of Europe or, indeed, achieve anything at all. He is, in… Read more

Why the Ancient Greeks thought adultery was worse than rape

25 October 2014

A footballer serves his sentence for rape, insisting on his innocence. Debate rages whether he should play again. To us, rape is taken to be the most serious of sexual… Read more

Snow Storm: Hannibal and his Army Crossing the Alps, by J.M.W Turner (Picture: Tate Britain)

Hannibal (and Alexander the Great) vs the Islamic State

18 October 2014

Whatever the Islamic State hopes ultimately to achieve by its current onslaught on all and sundry in the Middle East, Philip II of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great, would… Read more

No Paisley patterned pyjamas this time. The Sun on Sunday's cover has Brooks Newmark in his birthday suit - as seen, it says, by a second woman

What Aristotle would have made of Brooks Newmark's selfies

11 October 2014

News that the soon-to-be-ex-Tory MP Brooks Newmark has sent pictures of his genitals to a second (presumed female) contact has centred yawningly around ‘rights’, ‘exploitation’, ‘power’ and so on. Aristotle can… Read more


The ancient roots of Alex’s Salmond’s demagoguery

27 September 2014

Alex Salmond spent two years campaigning for independence for Scotland on the grounds of ‘social justice’. Now, claiming that the vote was lost because of the ‘old’ (subtext: the rich), he… Read more

What Romans would have made of Obama's Syria strategy

20 September 2014

President Obama was assailed for saying that the USA had no strategy on combating Isis. Vegetius (late 4th century AD), the author of the only surviving Roman treatise on military science,… Read more

The Boris Island of ancient Athens

13 September 2014

During his lecture on Athens at the Legatum Institute (see p. 22), Boris Johnson placed great emphasis on Athens’ development of Piraeus harbour in the 5th century BC. Did he… Read more


Would Alex Salmond give up his job to a heckler? It happened in Athens

6 September 2014

Alex Salmond claims to be thrilled that so many people in Scotland are suddenly gripped by politics. The importance of the question before the Scots — the future of their… Read more