Category Archives: Prose

Community spirit under siege

The coronavirus-induced lockdown has many effects on us, individually and collectively, wherever we are. And we all respond in different ways. There are many aspects of this situation that worry me. The idea that I might catch the virus myself … Continue reading

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Io, Saturnalia? Merry Happy Whatever!

Few ancient exclamations inspire the internet as much as io Saturnalia, allegedly shouted by the Romans in the streets during their celebration of the Saturnalia (and as it is December 18th today as I write this, we are already bang … Continue reading

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Gory, gruesome, and grotesque: two ancient vampire tales

It is Hallowe’en today, and as I have not blogged much recently, a post appearing on here on this very occasion must feel like someone has returned from the dead just in time for this ominous date . . . … Continue reading

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Happy New Year!

1,870 years ago, Marcus Cornelius Fronto wrote the following letter (Fronto 5.45) to Marcus Aurelius, then heir apparent to the throne of the Roman Empire: Domino meo. Annum novum faustum tibi et ad omnia, quae recte cupis, prosperum cum tibi … Continue reading

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Craving facts: the new graffito from Pompeii

Yesterday news broke about the discovery of a graffito from Pompeii that was, in the usual sensationalist way, hailed as a text that would require us to rewrite our history books: View this post on Instagram Pompeii, Regio V. Casa … Continue reading

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People of Changing Colour

In a vitriolic letter to Marcella about one Onasus, dated to A. D. 385, St. Jerome, one of the Christian fathers, makes a remarkable, commonly overlooked statement (Letters 42.2): non et lucus ideo dicatur, quod minime luceat, et Parcae ab … Continue reading

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‘You’re dead, you’re a joke,’ or: How should one respond to that image of a Pompeian who was struck by a massive piece of rock?

Contrary to what most people think, there is not only one certainty in life, namely that we all must die: there is a second one, and that is that, before we die, we must live with the certainty of death. … Continue reading

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Blazing with passion

It has been just over one year now since the devastating fire of Grenfell Tower in London – a horrendous, fast-spreading blaze that killed dozens of people and left over two-hundred of the tower block’s inhabitants in the sudden need … Continue reading

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Love Island

According to Suetonius, Rome’s foremost purveyor of biographical detail laced with outrageous gossip, the emperor Tiberius enjoyed the island of Capri as his retreat (Suet. Tib. 43, transl. J. C. Rolfe [only in the online version of the Loeb, not … Continue reading

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Mini-Me

A couple of days ago, Verne Troyer died. At 81 cm (2 ft 8 in), Troyer was one of the shortest men in the world, his Wikipedia entry claims; he is likely to be remembered, most of all, for performance … Continue reading

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