Category Archives: Prose

Black and White

It has been a long time since I last posted on here – the reason is simple: I’m frantically trying to finish a book about the Latin verse inscriptions of Rome’s poor and marginalised. I hope to have everything done … Continue reading

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Love, death, and blissful ignorance: Pliny and the origins of photography

Pliny the Elder, ancient Rome’s great encyclopedist, did not, of course, describe the origins of modern photography – a technique and art that was greatly advanced in Reading, Berkshire, by William Henry Fox Talbot (as described in this wonderful book). … Continue reading

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No graffiti please!

Yesterday news broke about houses that were defaced with graffiti (or, strictly speaking, dipinti – after all, the text was painted onto, not scratched into, the surface) in Cambridge – in Latin: Locus in domos … loci populum is a … Continue reading

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Valentine’s Valour

As the world once again celebrates undying love, chocolate, and flowers, it may be of interest to recall the story of Saint Valentine himself for a change. In his Legenda Aurea (‘Golden Legend’ – legend not as in ‘he’s a … Continue reading

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Drama queens: Ummidia and Messalina acting it out

Yesterday I had the immense pleasure to present – again – at the JACT GCSE Latin and Greek Conference at Westminster School London. My talk covered two set texts for the GCSE Latin – Pliny’s letter 7.24 (on Ummidia Quadratilla) … Continue reading

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Sneering at Experts

Defamatory remarks and jokes about entire professions, regardless of the individuals pursing them or their actual performance, are a stock element of western comedic culture. Among the most ridiculed group of professionals, since ancient times, are teachers, professors, and other … Continue reading

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False Etymologies

With a little (and really only just a little) too much time on my hands, I recently thought: why not enter terms that are on my mind a lot as search strings into the Packhum Latin database and see what … Continue reading

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A Chilling Letter from Ancient Rome

It has been a couple of years since I last posted a chilling Halloween story from the ancient world, and it has also been quite some time now since I last blogged: I blame a spooky-scary workload! At any rate, … Continue reading

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‘Amatrice is no more,’ or: August 24th, again

Correctly or not, August 24th is the date which is commonly taken as the day on which, in A. D. 79, Mt. Vesuvius erupted and destroyed the city of Pompeii as well as many adjacent settlements. Yesterday – on August … Continue reading

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In memoriam Jo Cox MP

Today, the increasingly shrill rhetoric around Britain’s future position within or outside the European Union (‘Bremain’ vs. ‘Brexit’) appears to have claimed the life of Labour MP Jo Cox. We tend to think of speech as ‘mere words’. But speech … Continue reading

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