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Grayson Perry thinks democracy has bad taste. Is that why he sells luxury goods to the rich? 

2 November 2013

‘Democracy has bad taste’, declared potter Grayson Perry in his Reith Lectures on the BBC about art. Tell that to the inventors of democracy. Ancient Greeks would have been appalled… Read more

Why did Athenians resort to arbitration by hedgehog? 

26 October 2013

Since trial by jury is so expensive, government is keen to cut costs on legal aid by ‘alternative dispute resolutions’ (ADR) and settle e.g. family disputes before they ever come… Read more

Gaddafi and the greatest sex tyrants in classical history

19 October 2013

A new book about Colonel Gaddafi goes into shocking detail about his monstrous sexual appetites. He used rape as a political weapon and instrument of blackmail. Viagra was on constant… Read more

Livy on Ed Miliband

12 October 2013

What should we make of Ed’s support for his father Ralph against the Daily Mail? Livy’s life of Torquatus suggests two possible responses. Torquatus was the obtuse, inarticulate son of… Read more

Aristotle on winning the centre ground

5 October 2013

Party conferences always provide the most agreeable spectacle of politicians desperately trying to appeal to both the diehards among the party faithful and the soft underbelly of the general public.… Read more

No wonder Damian McBride has attracted the contempt even of Alistair Campbell

28 September 2013

Damian McBride’s revelations about back-stabbing in Gordon’s imperial court raise a serious question: what was in it for him? The Roman delator (‘informer’) was not some little squirt from central… Read more

Plebs rule!

21 September 2013

Momentarily banish thoughts of policemen on duty at the House of Commons, and picture a Roman pleb. You will probably visualise a toothless peasant howling for ‘bread and circuses’ (i.e.… Read more

Herodotus in Sochi

14 September 2013

As a result of Russian laws against propagating homosexuality, there are calls to boycott the 2013 Winter Olympics in Sochi and 2018 Fifa World Cup due to be held there.… Read more

What the Roman general Vegetius could teach Obama about Syria

7 September 2013

So the USA must launch its onslaught against Syria without the Brits. Well, if Obama will make public announcements of what he is going to do, more fool him. The… Read more

Varro on The Apprentice

31 August 2013

Budding businesswoman Luisa Zissman, with her A in A-level English, has enquired whether ‘Bakers Toolkit’ or ‘Baker’s Toolkit’ is correct. As usual, the ancients are to blame. Ancient Greeks were… Read more

Ancient and modern: Modern Egypt vs ancient Athens

24 August 2013

Whatever problems Greeks and Romans faced, a politicised priesthood was not one of them. They might have made three observations on Egypt’s current plight. First, though Roman emperors were autocrats,… Read more

Lucretius vs Richard Dawkins

17 August 2013

Richard Dawkins has been confusing his categories again, comparing Trinity College, Cambridge, with Islam. His attack on religion does precisely the same, as if the pre-scientific Biblical account of the… Read more

Epictetus on Twitter

10 August 2013

One definition of addiction is repetition of a behaviour despite adverse consequences. Twitter users will know all about it, especially those on the end of abusive or illegal threats. All… Read more

Ancient and modern: Herodotus on 111

3 August 2013

The NHS 111 line, designed to deal with problems that do not count as emergencies, is in financial and organisational trouble yet again, but the Greek historian Herodotus (c. 490-c.… Read more

Plato on the Today programme

27 July 2013

A woman is invited to join the Today programme, and the chatteratae are immediately a-twitter on the subject of female equality. Unlikely as it seems, Plato was all in favour… Read more

Why Egypt needs a Socrates

20 July 2013

No one seems to know, or is willing to say, whether the Egyptian army’s intervention in Egyptian democracy was legal or not. Presumably that means it was illegal. But who… Read more

Ancient and modern: Socrates on TV election debates

13 July 2013

Lord Hennessy has been arguing that, as a result of TV debates between party leaders prior to elections, ‘the plausible tart bit will play too powerfully in [parties’] choice of… Read more

Common enemies

6 July 2013

One assumes that it will eventually dawn on those so deeply committed to slaughtering each other in Syria that, whatever interest they represent, diplomacy is the only way they will… Read more

Ancient and modern: Cicero on tax havens

29 June 2013

David Cameron wants the international community to do something about big business avoiding paying tax. If only it were as simple as that. Ancient philosophers, beginning with Aristotle (4th C… Read more

A little foresight

15 June 2013

After a damning IMF report on the EU’s botching of the Greek financial crisis, a Eurocrat snootily commented that hindsight was all very well, but…. Had the EU shown a… Read more

Imperial Athens and imperial Brussels

8 June 2013

Last week Matthew Parris argued that Ukip was ‘extremist’ because its supporters thought of the EU’s ‘methods, despotism and oppression of them and their daily lives as barely distinguishable from… Read more

Ancient and Modern: the nature of war

1 June 2013

Syrians continue to slaughter each other, and seem eager to draw others into the conflict. Thucydides, the great Greek historian of the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta (431-404 bc),… Read more

Athenian democracy vs Cameron’s referendum

25 May 2013

So Mr Cameron is offering us the faintest prospect of a referendum on the EU. Ancient Athenians would have laughed him to scorn. Meeting in the Assembly roughly every week,… Read more

Football, Sir Alex Ferguson, Seneca, Classics, Ancient Rome

18 May 2013

Sir Alex Ferguson is going to be in big trouble in retirement: how will he control or defuse his famous rages, now that they have no outlet? Ancients took a… Read more

Aristophanes’ advice for Nigel Farage

11 May 2013

Ukip is on the march, and the F word on the lips of every ashen-faced MP in the House — or the NF word, to be exact. What should be… Read more