Ancient Rome

How a Roman emperor would handle Navalny

20 February 2021 9:00 am

A Roman emperor would consider the tyrant Putin’s treatment of Alexei Navalny’s supporters as foolish but, looking at Russia as…

What would BLM make of Cicero’s views on mutuality?

30 January 2021 9:00 am

The Black Lives Matter website (different from the new Black Liberation Movement) mostly presents an image of an organisation of…

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…

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…

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…

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…

Boris is taking an emperor’s approach to briefings

29 February 2020 9:00 am

The PM is insisting that the briefings he finds in his red box every evening should be, well, brief, and…

The Romans liked a stylish death

20 October 2018 9:00 am

World Mental Health day raised again the issue of suicide, still regarded as happening only among those ‘whose balance of…

Where does authority really lie in the UK? The ancients would have known

14 July 2018 9:00 am

Forget David Davis, Boris, the cabinet, the commentariat. It’s time to concentrate on the big picture and the central question:…

If Trump seems bad, remember Caligula

13 January 2018 9:00 am

Whatever one makes of the accuracy of the journalist Michael Wolff’s depiction of President Trump, it cannot all be the…

When armies take over democracy dies

25 November 2017 9:00 am

While the military is running Zimbabwe, there is no hope of anything resembling a functioning democracy replacing the tyrant Robert…

The wily courtesans who won more respect than modern-day feminists

11 November 2017 9:00 am

Some MPs have been exploiting their power by their sexual fumblings with the lower ranks. The result is that when…

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…

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

Can the beauty of Palmyra be reproduced by data-driven robots? Stephen Bayley on copies, fakes and forgeries

On immigration, are we doing as the Romans did?

21 May 2016 9:00 am

Last week it was suggested that the questions asked of London mayor Sadiq Khan had nothing to do with racism,…

Romans, racism and Sadiq Khan

14 May 2016 9:00 am

‘Racism’ refers to the belief in racially determined inferiority, most often recognised in body-type, about which, by definition, nothing can…

Elephants are special – the Romans knew it too

7 May 2016 9:00 am

In order to deter poachers, hundreds of tons of elephants’ tusks are being incinerated in Kenya. But even for Romans,…

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…

Ancient Roman advice on how to deal with bouncers

27 February 2016 9:00 am

The papers are full of top stories about important people who cannot get into important parties because the doorman does…

Norma at the ENO (Photo: Alastair Muir)

Long live ENO!

27 February 2016 9:00 am

The three most moving, transporting death scenes in 19th-century opera all involve the respective heroines mounting a funeral pyre —…

Oscars goodie bags should take a tip from the Roman emperors

20 February 2016 9:00 am

There was something admirable about the spirit of careful mockery behind the doggy bags on offer to the finalists in…

Monumental change: the overthrow of the statue of Napoleon I, which was on top of the Vendôme Column. The painter Gustave Courbet is ninth from the right

A short history of statue-toppling

9 January 2016 9:00 am

Sculptural topplings provide an index of changing times, says Martin Gayford