News A statue of Alexander the Great in the northern Greek city of Salonica. Scientists believe they may have solved the 2000 year old mystery of how the ruler died

A leading toxicologist has said that Alexander the Great may have died after drinking wine made from a poisonous plant that would have cause a slow and painful death

THEATRE / All present and erect: Paul Taylor reviews Ranjit Bolt's stylishly smut-strewn translation of Aristophanes' Lysistrata at London's Old Vic

The gussets of the men's trousers are so floor-sweepingly voluminous you feel you'd have no problem stuffing a full week's family shopping into them. Which is just as well, given what they're forced to accommodate in the second half of Aristophanes' sublimely lewd Lysistrata. Here the hard-ons are as high as an elephant's eye or, to put it another way, is that a shoe-tree in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me? When one poor male attempts a courteous bow, he practically concusses himself on his reared-up rigidity.

Oarsmen learn the secrets of ancient Greek war machine : Almost unbeatable in battle, the triremes still had flaws. David Keys reports

A GROUP of British and American historians, naval architects and rowing enthusiasts have discovered how the ancient Greeks' greatest war machine worked.

Show People: Dirty old man does it again: 81. Aristophanes

TO ARISTOTLE, he was vulgar. To Plato, he was dangerous. To less snooty citizens of the world's first democracy, he was Spitting Image, Viz and Ray Cooney rolled into one. He didn't invent comedy, but he is the earliest comic playwright whose work survives. They say humour doesn't travel, and satire is not supposed to last, but this week Aristophanes of Athens, aged about 2,450, is back in the West End of London.

BOOK REVIEW / Greece is the word: 'Shame and Necessity' - Bernard Williams: University of California, 18.50

AT LONG last philosophers within the Anglo-American tradition are turning to literature. They have always been ready to quote from literature (a whole book could be written on the role of quotations from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland within this tradition), but literature has usually been a source of pithy examples rather than a particularly rich and interesting area of human endeavour. The continental tradition is quite different in this respect. From Hegel through Kierkegaard and Nietzsche to Sartre and Derrida, some of the deepest insights have come from questioning literature (and of course painting).

BOOK REVIEW / Handshakes all round, and the faint sound of snores: 'A Cultural History of Gesture' - Ed. Jan Bremmer and Herman Roodenburg: Polity, 12.95 pounds

THERE DO not seem to be many languages these days that cannot be learnt in 24 hours, given the right all-in-one multipack of tapes, videos, brochures, diet programmes, and so on. But body language remains a tough one. For historians there is an extra difficulty: physical mannerisms survive the test of time only in stylised forms, such as portraits and etiquette manuals. But one of the brightest aspects of modern history is its willingness to explore the minutiae of earlier life, and A Cultural History of Gesture is a keen examination of arms, legs, hands, feet, heads, hats and elbows.

Letter: Man means person

Sir: Yve Newbold (letter, 18 February) is on the wrong tack. By assigning the whole of mankind to the male half, she condemns herself to perpetual slight and feelings of inferiority. The more he-

Letter: Be economical with the plot, please

Sir: Politicians are often accused of being frugal with facts. Not so Tim Renton, MP (Letters, 9 February). Adam Mars-Jones may have confused his Greek mythology when describing the film Damage, but at least he didn't give away the plot. Can I sue for passive denouement?

THEATRE / A revenger's tragedy: Paul Taylor on Peter Shaffer's new play The Gift of the Gorgon, at the Barbican

Here's a paradox: a drama about the superiority of forgiveness to blood vengeance that leaves you murderously disposed towards the playwright-protagonist. It's about the only point in Peter Shaffer's The Gift of the Gorgon where your emotions are illuminatingly confused (though it's hard to say how intentional this is).

Edinburgh Festival Day 17: Breaking the sound barrier: Andrei Serban has tapped the sounds of ancient Greece to plumb the subconscious depths of modern-day Romania. Kevin Jackson reports

LEGEND has it that on the eve of one crucial by-election of the Sixties, Harold Wilson was alarmed at the prospect of Labour voters staying home to watch television rather than turning out for the polls; so alarmed, indeed, that he began to fantasise about coercing the BBC into screening an evening of such excruciatingly boring fare that even the most apathetic households would be driven out to vote. After pondering the problem for a while, he hit on the perfect formula. 'An evening of Greek tragedy,' grinned the Prime Minister. 'In the original Greek.'

Health: An unspeakable pain in an unmentionable place: When Mary Roberts found she had piles, her first thought was to keep it secret

I HAD always assumed it was a medical complaint that afflicted men over the age of 60 - until it happened to me.
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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home