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

Stabs in the back for an old feminist

SO WHAT do you think about Germaine Greer's new book? It's no good protesting that you haven't read it. Neither have I, and it hasn't stopped journalists ringing to ask what I make of it. Other people have been getting calls about it too, including my friend Maureen Freely, who is a feminist author as well as a colleague of Ms Greer's at Warwick University. The conversation moves swiftly from the book itself - not a very fruitful topic since it isn't due to be published until March next year - to questions about whether Ms Greer has anything to say to younger women.

Words: Cynical

The "Real IRA's" apology for the Omagh atrocity was taken by everyone with natural pinch of salt. The London Evening Standard thought it had the mot juste for it: "We have heard terrorists talk cynically of regret and of ceasefires before", said its leader, and its front-page story had the word twice in one sentence. (The "cynically timed" announcement "cynically did not say its ceasefire would be permanent"). This use of it would have puzzled Diogenes in his tub, and would have upset Antisthenes, the first cynic of all. He was a pupil of Socrates and his values were the opposite of the terrorists', since he believed only in virtue, despising ambition and the things of this world.

Naked cheek and the other Diana

This wasn't Princess Diana at all. This was Diana the huntress ...

Classical & Opera: Sing like an Egyptian

The Royal Opera's enforced exile from its home in Covent Garden is throwing up the opportunity to experience a number of interesting operatic rarities in concert format which, perhaps, wouldn't ever receive a full-blown staging in the normal course of events. One such rarity, which has been absent, at least from the British opera house, virtually since it was composed some 70 years ago, is Richard Strauss's Die agyptische Helena.

Letter: Healing the mind

Sir: I have great respect for Andreas Whittam Smith, so I was pleased to see him addressing the subject of "care in the community" (20 January). However, although the scientific basis of psychiatry may remain relatively weak, I fail to see how there has been no progress in understanding the relationship between the mind and brain since ancient Greece.

Letter: Aesop's horrors

Sir: You report (15 January) that Aesop's fables emerge in a new translation as "not pretty purveyors of Victorian morals [but] savage, coarse, brutal".

Making an ass of Aesop's moral maze

We think of `Aesop's Fables' as gentle little moral tales for children. But what about `The Camel who Shat in the River' and `The Beaver who Bit off his Private Parts'? These are not the Fables we grew up with. As David Lister explains, these are what the man actually wrote. A new book will show history's most famous fable maker to have a coarse and violent kink.

Not Aesoppy at all - his fables were filthy

Aesop's Fables, far from being children's stories, were coarse, violent and cruel. David Lister, Arts News Editor, reports on a new book that discovers 100 missing fables and causes us to revise our judgement on one of history's greatest story-tellers.

Europe: Thief strikes at the Louvre

Someone with deep pockets and a taste for ancient Greece walked out of the Louvre with a 32-cm (12-inch) stone fragment from around 400BC, museum officials said. The piece, originally found near Athens, is a fragment of a wish-list dedicated to Zeus, asking the god to protect the country from all kinds of illnesses. "It's not really a work of art like a sculpture ... it has more of an historic, documentary and scientific value," said a Louvre spokesman.

Weather: The heart-uplifting physics of rainbows

Scarcely anything in nature has excited both scientists and poets as much as rainbows. Yet the physics behind these apparitions has been properly understood only comparatively recently.

Weather: Flashy theories of ancient Greeks

The causes of thunder and lightning have been a matter of scientific debate for at least 2,500 years. We still do not completely understand the pattern of electrical activity within clouds.

Dig the pumps Herc!

Disney's 'Hercules' strains every sinew to make Greek mythology accessible to a Nineties audience. Which means more product placements than you can shake a divine rod at.

Letter: Archimedes' principle

Sir: That the editor of a broadsheet newspaper such as The Independent feels it necessary to print a letter (29 September) explaining Archimedes' principle says more about the state of education in the UK than any number of Ofsted reports.

The Chaplet of Pearls by Harriet Waugh

WEDNESDAY'S book

Fringe: The Story of the Fallen Hero In Guandaline

EDINBURGH FESTIVAL
Latest stories from i100
Career Services

Day In a Page

Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 17 April 2015
Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence