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Ancient and modernrss

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

Ancient and modern: Plato on Breivik

28 April 2012

The trial of the Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik might have met with Plato’s approval — for the time being. In his last work Laws, Plato provided a detailed description… Read more

Ancient and modern: Power junkies

21 April 2012

As local councils seize more power from central government, with more to come if Osborne’s plan to link salaries to location comes good, Labour MPs are already giving up on… Read more

Ancient and modern: Going postal

14 April 2012

The principle of the Royal Mail is far older than our youthful version, which was founded in 1516 by Henry VIII’s ‘Master of the Posts’ and made publicly available in… Read more

Ancient and modern: Plutarch on pasties

7 April 2012

Any appeal to the electorate that the coalition may once have had seems to be fading fast. If the decision to put VAT on a hot pasty turns out to… Read more

Ancient and modern: Morality without gods

31 March 2012

As vicars, traditional or trendy, assert that God is or is not in favour of something, one is reminded that there were cultures for whom divinely inspired scriptures did not… Read more

Ancient and modern: Imperial tax brackets

17 March 2012

Nick Clegg’s idea of taxing tycoons sounds very ‘modernising’, but tycoons need a pro quo for their quids, sorry, quae, as the Roman historian Livy knew. For Romans, there was… Read more

Ancient and modern: When the people decide

10 March 2012

Though our ‘democracies’ are designed to prevent any popular involvement, there are times when the situation becomes so critical that only the people have the authority to make the final… Read more

Ancient and modern: The point of ritual

3 March 2012

Humanists are breast-beating about the wicked influence of Christian practice on civil life. Julius Caesar would have put them straight. There were no pagan scriptures underpinning creeds, belief in one… Read more

Ancient and modern: The meaning of expertise

18 February 2012

While it is obviously the case that every university wants to teach bright students, it is statistically probable that Oxbridge fails to pick up a number of students who are… Read more

Ancient and modern: Scapegoat of the year

11 February 2012

The world informs us that the ex-Sir-cised knight Fred has been tipped off his horse onto a scapegoat. Wrong again. The Judaic [e]scapegoat ritual provided annual blanket cover for the… Read more

Ancient and modern: Call that a spectacle?

4 February 2012

The Grand Olympic Opening Ceremony will apparently inform us ‘who we are, who we were and who we wish to be’ — just in case we had forgotten — and… Read more