Ancient greece

For the ancient Greeks, the only point in taking part was to win

16 November 2019 9:00 am

The England team reached the final of the rugby world cup in Japan but they lost. As athletes, they knew…

Would the Athenians have held a second referendum?

28 September 2019 9:00 am

The Athenians invented the referendum: after debate in the citizens’ assembly, they voted through all political decisions by a show…

Watching Stephen Fry was like being in the presence of a god

31 August 2019 9:00 am

Stephen Fry lies prone on an empty stage. A red ball rolls in from the wings and bashes him in…

Boris is facing his Sparta moment

24 August 2019 9:00 am

The PM’s hero is the Athenian statesman Pericles, and a Periclean crossroads is now approaching. According to the biographer Plutarch,…

Let’s choose our politicians by random selection

20 July 2019 9:00 am

Athens Standing right below the Acropolis, where pure democracy began because public officials were elected by lot, I try to…

Politics, Pandora and the tender leaves of hope

13 July 2019 9:00 am

With parliament irretrievably deadlocked over Brexit and the EU intransigent, there remains little belief that either of the prime ministerial…

Do Greek plays really need a ‘modern twist’?

6 July 2019 9:00 am

Rufus Norris, the National Theatre’s artistic director, has revealed that all those tedious ancient plays will from now on be…

Boris and the perils of popularity

22 June 2019 9:00 am

So: Boris triumphans, ready to deliver a 140-seat majority for the Tories and lead the UK out of Europe and…

Lessons from the Greeks on rebuilding Notre Dame

4 May 2019 9:00 am

As soon as the blaze that nearly brought down Notre Dame was extinguished, two questions were asked: how did it…

Can ancient Greek comedians tell us how to leave the EU?

6 April 2019 9:00 am

Since comedians these days seem to be the authorities on all matters spiritual and temporal (puts on funny voice, knife-crime…

French Phidias: Auguste Rodin in his workshop in Meudon, c.1910

How Rodin made a Parthenon above Paris

28 April 2018 9:00 am

Rodin never set foot in Athens but he made a Parthenon above Paris, says Laura Freeman

I didn’t realise Petra was an ad for Merkel’s immigration policy: Civilisations reviewed

3 March 2018 9:00 am

Most of the history I know and remember comes from my inspirational prep school teacher Mr Bradshaw. History was taught…

Troy managed to descend into cliché even when nobody was actually using any words

24 February 2018 9:00 am

ITV’s Marcella (Monday) represents another triumphant breakthrough in the portrayal of female cops on television. Of course, thanks to more…

A recording that makes you realise Les Troyens is one of the greatest operatic masterpieces

16 December 2017 9:00 am

Grade: A-   Berlioz’s Les Troyens, one of the greatest operatic masterpieces, manages to be neglected even if it is…

An easy way for the Tories to combat the Corbyn threat? Idleness

14 October 2017 9:00 am

As the Tories struggle to find a policy which might appeal to their traditional supporters and not simply ape those…

War horse: horse headdress made of felt, leather and wood, late 4th–early 3rd century BC

Pot-smoking warriors who attached enemy bodyparts to their horses: Scythians reviewed

23 September 2017 9:00 am

You wouldn’t want to stumble upon the Scythians. Armed with battle-axes, bows and daggers, and covered in fearsome tattoos, the…

Still life: ‘A Kiss’, 1891, by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema

The Victorian painter who shaped cinema

9 September 2017 9:00 am

On 15 September 1888 Vincent van Gogh was intrigued to read an account of an up-to-date artist’s house in the…

Property’s not theft

15 July 2017 9:00 am

Sir Trevor Nunn is directing a play called ‘Dessert’. It seems to be a virtue-signalling riff on the evil of…

The post-truth is out there

10 June 2017 9:00 am

In a political ‘post-truth’ world, currently the subject of a slew of books, emotions and personal belief are said to…

L’Orfeo is at its darkest and most painful outside the opera house: Sir John Eliot Gardiner’s concert staging reviewed

3 June 2017 9:00 am

The ancient Greeks had a word for it —katabasis, descending into the depths, to the underworld itself, in search of…

Thucydides had Martin McGuinness’s number

1 April 2017 9:00 am

When Gerry Adams rose to announce at his funeral that Martin McGuinness was no terrorist but a ‘freedom fighter’, the…

How ancient Athens made the rich love taxes

18 March 2017 9:00 am

Now that Philip Hammond is promising yet more tax hikes, he might consider how Athens managed it. During the whole…

Plutarch: the father of anti-democracy

11 March 2017 9:00 am

Hardly a week goes by without someone applauding Thomas Carlyle’s objection to democracy: ‘I do not believe in the collective…

How Socrates judged experts

11 February 2017 9:00 am

The governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, raises his growth forecasts and suddenly everyone believes the ‘expert’. So…

What Donald Trump doesn't get about rhetoric

28 January 2017 9:00 am

In his inaugural speech last week, the new President Trump said, among much else, the ‘American carnage’ of poverty, ignorance…