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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

Ancient and modern: The business of glory

28 January 2012

So: So: capitalism bad, ‘responsible’ capitalism good. But is ‘responsibility’ the real issue? What is irresponsible about taking bonuses written into your contract? For people in that world, there should… Read more

Ancient and Modern: Aristotle on Balls

21 January 2012

The reason why shadow chancellor Balls is such a liability is that he is incapable of understanding how other people feel. That may not matter in relation to the opposition… Read more

Ancient and modern: Philanthropic pride

14 January 2012

Sir Paul Ruddock has revealed that he received his knighthood for none but philanthropic reasons. Every ancient would have cheered him to the roof and wondered why bankers like Sir… Read more

Ancient and Modern: Korea’s imperial succession

7 January 2012

With the death of Kim Jong-il and accession of his son Kim Jong-un, these are dodgy days in North Korea. It all goes back to Jong-il’s father Kim Il-sung, who… Read more

Ancient and modern: Gods everywhere

31 December 2011

And so the ‘God’ particle may have been discovered. Or not. Ancient Greeks would have thought it a waste of time, since the rational intellect could deal only with what… Read more

Ancient and Modern: The rules of tyranny

17 December 2011

Since tyrants have had such a high profile this year, child-slayer King Herod, an important player in Matthew’s version of the Christmas story, though absent from Luke’s, is sure to… Read more

Ancient and modern: In praise of barter

10 December 2011

Since austerity is now the order of the day, Greeks are doing the sensible thing and beginning to barter. Aristotle thought it was the only system that kept the world… Read more

Ancient and modern: Book burial

3 December 2011

Newcastle University library, happily removing academic journals from the shelves to the (apparent) cheers of the academics (Letters, 12 November), is well behind the pace. Michael Wilding, an Australian correspondent,… Read more

Ancient and Modern: Televising trials

26 November 2011

English juries are warned to reach their decision exclusively on the evidence put before them. Would the proposed intrusion of TV into the courtroom (as in the USA) threaten this… Read more

Ancient and modern: World of shadows

19 November 2011

The French justified Greece’s entry into the EU by claiming that they ‘could not say no to the country of Plato’. You bet they couldn’t. In the Republic, Plato outlined… Read more

Ancient and modern: Putting the rich to work

12 November 2011

It seems most odd to become so agitated about the (very few) filthy rich when the (large numbers) of very poor should be the centre of the welfare state’s concerns.… Read more

Ancient and modern: Rome and the world

5 November 2011

The title of Boris’s forthcoming book on the people of London claims that it is ‘the city that made the world’. Whoa back, steady on, now. Surely Boris means Rome,… Read more

Ancient and modern: Mothers of Rome

29 October 2011

The Great Debate about whether people of the same sex should be allowed to ‘marry’ would have bewildered the Romans, and not because they had any hang-ups about that style… Read more

Ancient and modern: Money games

22 October 2011

In the ancient world, the sole sources of wealth were agricultural and mineral (no ‘industry’), and minted coin the sole monetary instrument, whose value was related to its weight and… Read more

Ancient and modern: Austerity in Athens

15 October 2011

Last time Pericles showed how a real politician dealt with the severe austerity measures he had persuaded the Athenians to adopt if they were to win the battle against Sparta… Read more

Ancient and Modern

1 October 2011

The Greek people face serious austerity. How can their corrupt politicians (ask any Greek) possibly win them round? In 431 bc, the ‘Peloponnesian’ war broke out between the marine super-power… Read more

Ancient and Modern: Too big not to fail

17 September 2011

Commentators bang on endlessly about the desirability of a ‘global world’, with every economy linked seamlessly to every other. But when it goes wrong, as it has done in the… Read more

Ancient and Modern

10 September 2011

As Greeks howl for other people’s money and the EU coughs up, both should reflect on Aristophanes’ comedy Wealth (Ploutos), which pinpointed the mindsets 2,400 years ago. Chremylus, a poor… Read more

Ancient and modern

3 September 2011

If the Libyans really do want to move from 42 years of tyranny to a western-style ‘democracy’, i.e. an elective oligarchy, they will need a friendly tyrant to help them… Read more

Ancient and modern

27 August 2011

There has been considerable comment on the severity of the punishments handed out to the looters in the recent riots. In Aristotle’s Problems, most of which, admittedly, is not by… Read more

Ancient and modern

20 August 2011

Prime Minister Cameron wants to fix the ‘moral collapse’ that caused the recent riots. So do we all, but how? In a dialogue by Plato, Protagoras told the following mûthos about… Read more

Ancient and Modern

13 August 2011

Rome’s death penalty The government has set up a system of e-petitions which, if they garner a million signatures, may — or may not — trigger a debate in parliament.… Read more