Ancient and modernrss

Hesiod on work and welfare

10 November 2012

Job, jobs, jobs: no political party can talk of much else. But the concept of the ‘job’ and the ‘wage’ emerges out of the Industrial Revolution. What of worlds where… Read more

Punishment and retribution

27 October 2012

Prime Minister Cameron has argued that ‘retribution [against criminals] is not a dirty word’ and ‘punishment is what offenders both deserve and need’. Many ancients would have keenly agreed. Ancient… Read more

Provoking war

20 October 2012

The Pacific countries have tended to look to the USA for protection in territorial disputes and general security, stimulating their peaceful economic expansion. But the more powerful China becomes, the… Read more

Cicero on public emotion

13 October 2012

If Ian Hislop in his new TV series is right, the English up to the 19th century were a bunch of softies. It was from studying the Romans, among others,… Read more

Livy on wealth taxes

6 October 2012

The ancient Greek example has already shown the Lib Dems how to enact the Mansion Tax. Now the Romans must step in to explain how to bring about the full-blown… Read more

A tribune of the people

29 September 2012

All the foul-mouthed effing and blinding by Andrew Mitchell did not worry the copper, only his use of the word ‘pleb’. Quite right too: who could be more plebeian than… Read more

European funding

22 September 2012

To prop up the euro, a German court has agreed to allow Germany to fund the European Central Bank (ECB) so that it can bail out failing states. But it… Read more

The Athenians’ mansion tax

15 September 2012

Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, has said he may support Nick Clegg’s suggestion of a mansion tax. All houses worth more than £2 million will annually pour a certain percentage of… Read more

Socrates on Paralympians

8 September 2012

It has taken the Paralympians to object to the gushing epithets that the media lard all over them: ‘brave’, ‘courageous’, ‘heroic’ and so on. They are, in fact, no different… Read more

Cicero on Prince Harry

1 September 2012

Personal privacy in the modern sense became a cause in the USA in the late 19th century, with the massive expansion of newsprint and the development of cameras and professional… Read more

Vitruvius on rail franchising

25 August 2012

Ever since nationalisation was invented in the 19th century, private franchising (e.g. the West Coast Main Line) has raised the question: why should private business profit from a public service which the state ‘should’… Read more

A lesson from St Jerome

18 August 2012

The educational bien pensants are up in arms because Michael Gove wants children at primary school to learn their times-tables not in ‘real-life contexts’ but ‘by rote’. The ancients, whose… Read more

Dead good Olympian

11 August 2012

How the Olympics have changed! Even our ‘Greco-Roman wrestling’, which bars leg-holds and is scored by judges (unless a pinfall is registered), bears no similarity to any ancient version. In… Read more

Sex and the Games

4 August 2012

Boxer Lennox Lewis, arguing that women weakened a man, avoided sex for three weeks before a fight. Greeks would have agreed, but things seem somewhat different in the contraceptive-laden Olympic… Read more

Ancient and Modern

28 July 2012

Dr Armand D’Angour (Jesus College, Oxford) has composed a brilliant Ode in ancient Greek to welcome the Olympic Games to London. It is called a ‘Pindaric’ Ode, but as Dr… Read more

Ancient and modern

21 July 2012

‘Olympism’ is, according to the 2011 Olympic charter, ‘a philosophy of life which places sport at the service of humankind… exalting and combining in a balanced whole the qualities of… Read more

Ancient and Modern

14 July 2012

It is a basic principle of international diplomacy that one does not interfere in the internal affairs of other sovereign states. These days it seems more honoured in the breach… Read more

Ancient and modern: Plato on Bob Diamond

7 July 2012

Bob Diamond, chief executive of Barclays, has resigned because of Libor rate-fixing among his traders in 2005–9. He once defined the ‘culture’ of a successful bank as ‘how people behave… Read more

Ancient and Modern: A tax on luxury

30 June 2012

The Chancellor is desperate to get more cash into his wallet. Why not try the old trick — a tax on luxuries, or rather, an even greater tax on luxuries?… Read more

Ancient and modern: Romans and republicans

23 June 2012

During the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations, every Polly in the world chanted dispraise of Her Majesty, who is personally responsible (one claimed) for Trident, public schools, income difference, lack of job opportunities… Read more

Thucydides on Greece’s choice

16 June 2012

In 416 bc, the island of Melos, neutral in the war between Athens and Sparta, was confronted with a choice by the Athenians: yield to us or else. The contemporary… Read more

Ancient and modern: Cicero on Leveson

2 June 2012

Culture minister Jeremy Hunt’s special adviser Adam Smith landed the minister in the soup by his too-cosy texts to News Corp about the proposed BSkyB takeover. He resigned, and Labour… Read more

Ancient and modern: An ostracism is called for

26 May 2012

So: Angela Merkel proposes a Greek referendum on the euro, David Cameron says the forthcoming election there is the equivalent of a referendum. But as ancient Greeks knew, what is… Read more

Ancient and modern: The wrong ancient gods

19 May 2012

The Royal Mint has just released some gold coins to celebrate the London Olympics. John Bergdahl, who designed them, explained the source of his ‘inspiration’ as ‘the first Olympic Games… Read more

Ancient and modern: Aesop on Alex Salmond

12 May 2012

In Aesop’s fable, mother frog threatened to explode by puffing herself up to a size big enough to take on the ox that had accidentally trodden on one of her… Read more