Ancient and modern

The ancient belief in the power of words to protect us

16 January 2021 9:00 am

In his 37-book Natural History, Pliny the Elder (d. ad 79) wondered why we wished people ‘Happy new year’ (primum…

The Greeks wouldn’t have accepted Cambridge’s ‘respect’ policy either

19 December 2020 9:00 am

Professor Toope, the vice-chancellor of Cambridge university, had proposed a motion ordering all members of the university to ‘respect’ each…

Nick Robinson could learn a thing or two from Plato

12 December 2020 9:00 am

Today presenter Nick Robinson has been reflecting on the political interview. He contrasts his interviews with scientists about Covid with…

Will we end up with a Paphlagonian Brexit deal?

5 December 2020 9:00 am

Freed from the bonds of the European Union, Britain is now in a position to sign whatever trade deal it…

Modern historians take a Roman approach to history – whether they admit it or not

28 November 2020 9:00 am

To what use does one put history? Romans thought it provided ‘lessons’. Modern historians rather sniff at the idea, but…

Aristotle would have seen Trump’s behaviour as entirely normal

21 November 2020 9:00 am

Donald Trump may be a narcissist, but since he is not mentally ill in the technical sense, he is not…

Rome’s collegiate system was more logical than America's

14 November 2020 9:00 am

So Humpty Trumpty has had his great fall. But how democratic or logical was his election in the first place…

The ancients knew the value of the natural world

7 November 2020 9:00 am

The ancients knew nothing about global warming, but they still reflected on the relationship between man and nature. In the…

Can the UK avoid a Carthaginian Brexit deal?

31 October 2020 9:00 am

The term ‘Carthaginian’ is often used of the EU’s attitude to post-Brexit trade negotiations with the UK, i.e. as if…

Boris Johnson needs to face down his own people

24 October 2020 9:00 am

To beat the virus, the government is asking us to keep to simple hands-face-space guidelines. When these are not followed,…

Boris’s hero Pericles didn’t need a spokeswoman

17 October 2020 9:00 am

A spokeswoman has been appointed ‘to communicate with the nation on behalf of the Prime Minister’. He apparently needs ‘a…

How to be content

10 October 2020 9:00 am

The Covid-19 pandemic is apparently causing a large number of mental health problems. On that subject, one could do a…

The Socratic approach to Covid

3 October 2020 9:00 am

Organs of the press are filled with opinion pages. The sublime confidence about Covid with which commentators advance these opinions,…

Should a Good Citizen snitch on neighbours?

26 September 2020 9:00 am

If neighbours break whatever new Covid rules might soon emerge, it has been suggested that the Good Citizen might snitch…

Racism and the destructive power of language

19 September 2020 9:00 am

Pursuing last week’s theme, this week’s column raises the question: if there is no such thing as ‘race’ — since…

The Romans weren’t racist

12 September 2020 9:00 am

Rod Liddle has questioned whether Ms Jolly, chief librarian of the British Library, was right to say that whites invented…

Museums need wonder, not wokery

5 September 2020 9:00 am

The British Museum’s aim is to use its collection ‘for the benefit and education of humanity’. If that manifests itself…

The Romans wouldn’t have understood our exam obsession

29 August 2020 9:00 am

Many commentators have argued that the recent grading controversy indicates just how important public examinations are. Up to a point,…

The Romans welcomed migrants with open arms

22 August 2020 9:00 am

The kind of arguments raging about migrants crossing the Channel to enter Britain illegally never raged in the Ancient Roman…

How the Athenians would have handled the Lords

15 August 2020 9:00 am

Arguments about the purpose or indeed very existence of anything resembling the House of Lords would have struck classical democratic…

Mixed messages about body weight are nothing new

8 August 2020 9:00 am

Tackling obesity is the latest government initiative, universally condemned as nannying. Ask a Spartan. From an early age, Spartan children…

Will all roads soon lead to York?

25 July 2020 9:00 am

Should the PM move parliament to York? There is, of course, historical precedent for such a move, as he very…

Does classical Athens give us a clue to China’s next move?

18 July 2020 9:00 am

In 1984, China agreed a ‘one country, two systems’ treaty with the UK, designed to control the relationship between Hong…

Tiberius and the ‘phantoms of liberty’

4 July 2020 9:00 am

Word has it that ministers already do not bother to argue their corner with the government’s inner ring, while a…

What can Roman outbreaks of malaria teach us about Covid?

27 June 2020 9:00 am

When Covid-19 first appeared, its similarity to Sars made some assume it could not mount a pandemic; others that it…