Ancient Rome

Putin’s emperor complex

14 May 2022 9:00 am

Did Vladimir Putin ever use his infamous ‘historical’ account of Russia-Ukraine relations to consider how Ukrainians might react to his…

What makes a ‘just’ war?

30 April 2022 9:00 am

What is a just war? Those who, from St Augustine onwards, have debated the question usually begin with Cicero, the…

Ukraine, the Roman army and why morale matters

23 April 2022 9:00 am

Commentators talk much about the morale of the Ukrainian troops and the edge that this has given them over the…

The rise and fall of the Tsarist legal system

16 April 2022 9:00 am

St. Petersburg University in Russia is (desperately?) inviting scholars worldwide to a conference in September celebrating Mikhail Speransky. It was…

The Russians aren’t the first to rewrite history

9 April 2022 9:00 am

Historians in Russia have a long and craven record, now going back centuries, of being economical with the truth about…

Patriarch Kirill, Archbishop Ambrose and a lesson for Putin

26 March 2022 9:00 am

Patriarch Kirill is Patriarch of Moscow and all Rus’ and Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church; and one of his…

What Tacitus knew about tyrants

12 March 2022 9:00 am

Last week Aristotle offered a lesson in tyrant theory. This week Tacitus (ad 56-c.120) offers one in tyrant practice. Tacitus…

How the ancients approached the three Rs

19 February 2022 9:00 am

German archaeologists have found ancient Egyptian tablets covered in repetitive writing exercises and ask — were they pupil punishments? But…

The ancient problem of unscrupulous ‘doctors’

12 February 2022 9:00 am

Yet again ‘doctors’ with no qualifications have been found advertising dodgy but expensive products and treatments, in this case, injections…

Claudius, Messalina and how not to choose political advisers

5 February 2022 9:00 am

The Prime Minister has been having some trouble with his inner circle of advisers. Tacitus supplies fine examples of how…

Boris wouldn’t be the first to be brought down by a party

22 January 2022 9:00 am

Whatever the result of Sue Gray’s report on ‘gatherings’ in Downing Street, there is a political lesson to be learned:…

Tacitus and the hypocrisy of cancel culture

3 July 2021 9:00 am

The delicious hypocrisy at the heart of today’s cancel fraternity is that it is strongly opposed to censorship. Romans grappled…

Roman cancel culture didn’t stop at statues

19 June 2021 9:00 am

The mob is at work again in Oxford, protesting against the existence of Oriel’s statue of Cecil Rhodes. But this…

The art of the asparagus

15 May 2021 9:00 am

Manet’s ‘Botte d’asperges’ are probably the most famous asparagus in the world. The artist painted the delicious white- and lilac-tinged…

How to eulogise the Duke of Edinburgh

17 April 2021 9:00 am

The reason why Greeks and Romans would have found it difficult to eulogise the Duke of Edinburgh was that he…

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:…