What we could learn from the classical courts

This year, in its annual Supreme Court moot trial of a famous ancient figure, the charity Classics for All charged the consul Cicero with illegally ordering the execution of five traitors working with the failed politician Catiline to bring revolution to Rome (63 bc). In his history of that crisis, Sallust composed speeches for Julius Caesar in defence of the conspirators, and for Cato the Younger for their execution, followed by a character assessment. This package may prompt reflections on our times. Caesar argued that men facing difficult questions ‘should clear their minds of hatred, amity, anger and compassion… success is achieved by applying judgment; but your passions will rule

What would it mean to ‘decolonise’ the Classics?

We classicists peering into the past can sometimes be blindsided by the present. 2020 brings the charge that our discipline promotes racism. Last month, America’s Society for Classical Studies announced ‘the complicity of Classics as a field in constructing and participating in racist and anti-black educational structures and attitudes’. A pre-doctoral fellow at Princeton has enjoined ‘white classicists’ to ‘unlearn white supremacy in themselves’. And, closer to home, Oxford’s Faculty of Classics is being petitioned by many of its students to ‘acknowledge explicitly its own role in the proliferation of racist, colonialist, and white supremacist attitudes’. Have I really chosen the career of racism-pedlar? Are classicists really promoting ‘white people’