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The secrets of London's Athenian golden age

Democracy and competition – the spirit of the best of ancient Greece – are what make my city great

13 September 2014

9:00 AM

13 September 2014

9:00 AM

I had a misspent youth. During the period when most normal adolescents were playing Grand Theft Auto or discovering ten interesting facts about Pamela Anderson, I am afraid that I would take the tube by myself — aged about 13 — and visit the British Museum.

I would walk through the cat-headed Egyptians and the cloven-hoofed Babylon-ians and the typewriter-bearded Assyrians, and all the other savage and ludicrous Near Eastern divinities, until I penetrated the innermost and holiest shrine of London’s greatest cultural temple, the Duveen galleries.

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This is an edited version of a lecture delivered to the Legatum Institute. Boris Johnson is a former editor of The Spectator.

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