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

Modern Classics

THEATRE Kings Tricycle, London

Words: Hostess

Children taken to parties used to be told to behave and to be sure to say a nice thank you to the hostess, most likely remembered as a stately dame with what the French would call beaucoup de monde au balcon. Later, hostesses presided (always the word) over the afternoon teacakes and scones, and were gracious. Modern hostesses of this sort have little in common with the wide-eyed 17-year-old "Soho hostess" who, according to reports, befriended the Tory MP Piers Merchant, apart from the name they share.

words: Political

AS pre-election tempers get hotter and insults fly faster, we can expect to hear more and more politicians using one of the most insulting words they know. Political. A loyal backbencher threw it at the Opposition last week in defence of Douglas Hogg, who was in a bit of trouble over the state of our abattoirs. To attack Mr Hogg at this juncture was "blatant political opportunism", he cried. Mere opportunism, one felt, was one thing, but that sort ... To what further depths could an Opposition sink?

Dangerous days on the cyberfrontier

In the new world of the Internet, the best and the worst of American business is on view

How mystical seven gives a nod to big ears

From the Seven Deadly Sins and the Seven Wonders of the World to Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and the Seven Dwarfs, the number seven has a significance denied to other, lesser (or greater) digits - and the human body is not exempt.

words Economy

Economy

How the Greeks got there first

UNDER THE MICROSCOPE

Theatre: Comedy of Errors The Other Place, Stratford

The Comedy of Errors tempts most directors into a fit of camp evasion. The main part of the play is a farce in which Shakespeare shows off his youthful virtuosity by juggling two pairs of identical twins rather than the single pair of lookalikes he found in his Plautine source. Framing this action, though, is a story that looks forward to the shipwrecks, sunderings and miraculous reunions of the later romances.

The sound boxes of Aeschylus

THE BROADER PICTURE

Letter: Ancient tradition

Sir: Does it occur to Colin Campbell (Letters, 30 April) that the tradition of painting stone buildings goes back to the Ancient Greeks?

Arts: The bluffer's guide to Birtwistle

On the eve of a major South Bank retrospective of the composer's work, Malcolm Hayes constructs an acrostic portrait of the man the Hecklers love to hate

The Bacchae: The Library Theatre, Manchester and on tour

Euripides' The Bacchae is strong meat, literally. Its dominant image is of dismemberment, animal and then human flesh seized alive and devoured in the furthest reach of frenzy available to human kind.

Letter: Geocentric views in ancient Greece

From Mr Julian B. Barbour

LETTER:Oedipal rage

From Mr George MacDonald Ross
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Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

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