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".

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.

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.

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

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Fringe: The Story of the Fallen Hero In Guandaline

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Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
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Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 15 May 2015
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

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International Tap Festival comes to the UK

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War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

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Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

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Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
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Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
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