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

words: Lethal

Lethal

feigning the full hormonal flush of careless youth

THE suzi feay COLUMN

Dear mom, love Persephone

MOTHER LOVE by Rita Dove Norton pounds 10.95

Books: A dictionary for Dionysus

WHOM GODS DESTROY: Elements of Greek and Tragic Madness by Ruth Padel, Princeton pounds 19.95

OBITUARY: Martin Price

Martin Price was one of the leading scholars in the field of Greek coinage and one of the most generous and unselfish of men.

Ceasefire: Words: Pan

BEFORE Ulster loyalist spokesmen began throwing verbal bricks at the 'pan-nationalists' I must admit that I had not come across this particular pan- combination. Pan-Buddhists, Pan-Anglo-Saxons and the Pan- Celtic Movement, yes: Pan American Airways certainly. I had even heard of the pan-

BOOK REVIEW / Paperbacks: Mary Renault: A Biography - David Sweetman: Pimlico, pounds 10

Renault was one of my favourite writers as a young teenager, and I can remember dark rumours circulating that this mysterious novelist, whose flyleaf was cryptically short on detail, was Really a Man. Well now I know. She was a lesbian - not a term she liked - who lived for 35 years in South Africa with a woman she met while nursing in Britain. She wrote six novels of contemporary life until she found her subject, ancient Greece, about which she wrote eight more, some of them classics. Sweetman gives useful insights into the more puzzling aspects of Renault - suggesting why, for instance, women are given such a hard time in her novels. He is also concerned to show her sympathy for the politically oppressed - not just homosexuals, but the disenfranchised masses of her adopted home.

Leading Article: Be a giver, and be thankful

NIETZSCHE perhaps went too far in praise of helping the poor. 'Should not the giver be thankful that the receiver received?' he suggested. 'Is not giving a need? Is not receiving mercy?' But the German philosopher hit on an important truth, that charity can be of great value to those who bestow it. His views echoed a long religious tradition. The ancient Greeks believed that beggars were from Zeus and therefore precious. Likewise the Beatitudes bless the poor. Islam acknowledges the therapeutic benefits of giving. Charity is called zakat, meaning 'purifying dues'.

BOOK REVIEW / A to Z of Victorian values: 'All there is to know: A Selection from the 11th Edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica' - ed Alexander Coleman & Charles Simmons: Deutsch, 20 pounds

THE Encyclopaedia Britannica, like many of man's finer creations, originated north of the border. Its first edition was launched in Edinburgh between 1768 and 1771. Some 1,700 years earlier, Pliny the Elder compiled the oldest surviving compendium of knowledge in his great Natural History. The shining conception of an encircling system of instruction, in which all disciplines flowed into each other, formed the basis of free- born education in ancient Greece. Plato's pupil Speusippus produced an encyclopaedia, long- vanished, as did Cato the Very Depressing, as did Varro. But it was in the 18th century that the art or craft reached its apogee, with the 28 volumes of Diderot and D'Alembert's stupendous Encyclopedie, among whose contributors were Montesquieu, Rousseau and Voltaire. Its entries were arranged in the traditional thematic manner. The Edinburgh Encyclopaedia Britannica, more modest in scope, compromised mildly by introducing an alphabetical element. A hundred years later it was in its ninth edition and had become the largest in any language, rivalled only by the German Lexikon. In the high-flowering of autodidacticism on both sides of the Atlantic, a further 10 volumes were added; the resulting opus extended more than seven feet, an unruly, unworkable leviathan.

Rare Greek vases expected to sell for pounds 1m

A COLLECTION of ancient Greek vases is expected to raise more than pounds 1m at Sotheby's in London next month.

Science: Trip to Cern awaits young prize winners

All Europe will be celebrating its scientific heritage next month, in a series of festivities sponsored by the European Community to mark European Week for Scientific Culture. The Independent, in conjunction with the British Association for the Advancement of Science, will participate by running a competition, aimed at 14- to 18-year-olds, starting on the science page on 22 November.

It's not in the genes, it's in the culture

HAVING published their evidence connecting Xq28, an area of the X chromosome, with homosexuality, the team led by Dean Hamer of the US National Cancer Institute returned to their microscopes and began surveying the contiguous Xq29. Only this time their microscopes were even more powerful than before, and what they saw made them gasp with amazement.

THEATRE / True blue, and over the top

WHAT MADE some members of the audience at the Liverpool Playhouse walk out of Lysistrata? Billed enthusiastically as the rudest comedy ever, Aristophanes' play, written during the Peloponnesian War in 411BC, has the women of Athens and Sparta taking steps to end the war. They deny the men sex and take charge of the money supply. Defensive this may be: offensive it's not.
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University Edible Garden, Leeds – a sustainable garden in the centre of the university, passers-by can help themselves to the home-grown produce
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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
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Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc