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

‘My Acropolis,’ Auguste Rodin called his house at Meudon. Here, the sculptor made a Parthenon above Paris. Surrounded by statues…

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…

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

The icemen cometh

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

Silent films

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…

How Aristotle would hire civil servants

4 June 2016 9:00 am

The civil service is to be allowed to find out what job applicants’ ‘socio-economic background’ is. What abject drivel is…

Buried treasure: an archaeologist diver brushes clear a bovid jaw discovered in Aboukir Bay

The treasures of Alexandria revealed: British Museum’s Sunken cities reviewed

4 June 2016 9:00 am

It was not so unusual for someone to turn into a god in Egypt. It happened to the Emperor Hadrian’s…

The best guide to being an EU politician – from 1,900 years ago

28 May 2016 9:00 am

Boris Johnson argues that the current European Union is yet another failed attempt to replicate the golden age of a…

True or false? The Temple of Bel, Palmyra, before and after its destruction at the hands of Islamic State

Why confront the ugly lie of Islamic State with a tacky fake?

28 May 2016 9:00 am

There is fakery in the air. And maybe the French are done with deconstruction. A drone operated by a French…

Not a repertory piece but in its dignity it earns respect: Royal Opera’s Oedipe reviewed

28 May 2016 9:00 am

For years I have been telling people that they should listen to, in the absence of staged performances, Enescu’s opera…

The Camerons of the ancient world boasted about the tax they paid

16 April 2016 9:00 am

As Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell whinge away about how rich David Cameron’s family is, they might consider that in…

Meet the Donald Trump of ancient Athens (he won)

2 April 2016 9:00 am

Why does the Republican party loathe Donald Trump? Because Trump is the ultimate loose cannon, beholden to no one. And…

The singing made me seasick: ETO’s Don Giovanni reviewed

26 March 2016 9:00 am

One of these days I will probably see a production of Don Giovanni set in a research station in the…

There were no safe spaces at the dawn of democracy

19 March 2016 9:00 am

Brilliant Oxford undergraduates argue that it is right to prevent us saying things they object to, because speech they do…