Ancient and modernrss

Why the Ancient Greeks didn’t have middle-aged spread

23 August 2014

A drug has been invented to halt what is known as middle-aged spread. But it would be so much better if there was no such thing as middle age in… Read more

Demosthenes’ lessons in ambition for Boris Johnson

16 August 2014

The ancient Greek word for ‘ambition’ was philotimia: ‘love of high esteem in others’ eyes’. Both Boris and Alex Salmond are consumed by this desire for what Greeks saw as… Read more

A Palestinian child (Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty)

Roman emperors understood more about democracy than Hamas

9 August 2014

There must be some reason why Hamas seems to remain quite unfazed by Israel’s merciless slaughter of its people. Perhaps it is all part of a grand strategy. The point… Read more

Emperor Hadrian

Hadrian’s advice for a new Defence Secretary

2 August 2014

Michael Fallon, the new Defence Secretary, is a classicist by training. What lessons, if any, might he take from his study of the ancient world, especially in relation to military… Read more

(Photo: Carla Miller)

Plutarch on smartphone addiction

26 July 2014

Adults, we are told, as much as children, become gibbering wrecks if deprived of their mobiles or iPhones for more than 15 seconds. The 2nd-century ad essayist Plutarch foresaw the… Read more


Ancient & Modern: the rumour mill

19 July 2014

Geoffrey Dickens’s ancient dossier of (alleged) paedophiles in high places cannot be found among the 138 miles of government files, and rumour immediately takes wing. The ancients knew all about… Read more

The Dying Gaul

Assisted dying? Ancient religion was all for it

12 July 2014

There is something mildly unexpected about religious groups’ hostility to euthanasia. After all, in the ancient world one of the major differences between e.g. Christians and pagans was that Christians… Read more

Brussels will treat Britain as Macedonia treated Sparta

5 July 2014

The EU is a federation of states (Latin foedus, ‘treaty’, from the same root as fides, ‘trust, good faith’). But for how long can such a federation endure a recalcitrant… Read more

Of course fish are smart. Even the Romans knew that

28 June 2014

Dr Culum Brown of Macquarie University, Australia, has been doing some research on fish, and concludes that they are intelligent, live in social communities (etc) and generally display ‘behavioural and… Read more

How ancient Athens beat tax avoidance

21 June 2014

The taxman will soon be ordering those planning dodgy tax avoidance schemes to declare them beforehand and pay the full tax on them up front. Only if HMRC finally decides… Read more

The true gods of football (hint: they don’t work for Fifa)

14 June 2014

The World Cup has started, and the gods of football will be in their heaven for a whole month. Not the players, of course: the spectators. Ancient gods, wielding absolute… Read more

What Julius Caesar would have done about Nigel Farage

7 June 2014

Our politicians are desperately keen to turn the toast of the people, Nigel Farage, into toast himself. But is that wise? Time to consider the career of the Roman general… Read more

How the Ancient Greeks did wealth taxes

31 May 2014

After 685 tightly argued pages, the ‘superstar’ economist Thomas Piketty unfolds his master-plan for closing the gap between the rich and poor: you take money away from the rich. Novel.… Read more

Plato would probably criticise state handouts (Photo: Matt Cardy/Getty)

How Plato and Aristotle would have tackled unemployment

24 May 2014

Labour is up in arms because many of the new jobs currently being created are among the self-employed. This seems to them to be cheating. Quite the reverse, ancients would… Read more

Xenophon's answer to a budget crisis – more non-doms!

17 May 2014

Nearly half of Britain’s billionaires are foreigners, and government hopes many more will now come in on the government ‘start business — get passport’ scheme. Someone has obviously been reading… Read more


Ukraine vs Sparta

10 May 2014

As rebels, terrorists, fascists, foreign forces, activists, separatists, militants, militias, nationalist groups, Neo-Nazis, Right Sector forces — take your pick — spread civil war across the increasingly lawless cities of eastern Ukraine,… Read more

What Boris and Pericles have in common

3 May 2014

What is Boris’s great secret? Does it lie in the bust of the Athenian statesman Pericles (c. 495–429 bc) that he keeps in the Mayor’s office in London? The key… Read more

Ancient and Modern: a war for ‘human rights’

26 April 2014

What a splendidly liberal leader Mr Putin has turned out to be, desiring nothing other for his fellow Russians than their human right to decide their own fate. How the… Read more

MPs should be grateful not to be in ancient Athens

19 April 2014

If the continuing rows over the expenses and lifestyles of certain MPs cast all of them in a bad light, it is a mystery why decent members do not take… Read more

Socrates on Maria Miller

12 April 2014

Our former culture secretary, Maria Miller, is still apparently baffled at the fuss created by her fighting to the last to prevent her expenses being examined. It was a mere… Read more

Is David Cameron trying to imitate the Delphic Oracle?

5 April 2014

Nigel Farage rather missed a trick in his debate over the EU with Nick Clegg. The Prime Minister has promised us an ‘In/Out’ referendum on the EU in 2017, if… Read more

Epicurus on particle physics

29 March 2014

According to a top TV scientist, in the beginning there was ‘empty space’ and ‘energy’. After a big bang, the universe started out as a ‘featureless void’. But emerging particles… Read more

On teaching, St Jerome is with Daisy Christodoulou

22 March 2014

Last week in The Spectator, Daisy Christodoulou argued that, contrary to current educational theory, children learned best via direct instruction and drills under the guidance of a good teacher, which… Read more

Cicero would have agreed with Putin

15 March 2014

Last September Russian President Vladimir Putin warned against a ‘unipolar’ world, saying that the national revival of Russia was in line with its foreign policy objective of a multi-polar world… Read more

What Socrates and Harriet Harman have in common

8 March 2014

Since apologising has recently been all the rage, refusing to apologise, as Harriet Harman has done over the NCCL’s connection with the Paedophile Information Exchange, comes as a very pleasant… Read more