Voices

If he had been just a kindly chap, nobody outside his family would have noticed

Excavation reveals ancient site of slaughter: David Keys reports on gruesome discoveries under a Roman arena used for blood sports

The gruesome remains of prisoners slaughtered almost 2,000 years ago in the Roman Britain equivalent of the Colosseum have been discovered by archaeologists in central London.

Travel: Where history is hot stuff: Ancient Romans spring to life in Bath thanks to a museum programme that takes a hands-on approach to the subject. Frank Barrett reports

PERSUADING children that history is interesting - or at least as interesting as level three of Sonic the Hedgehog - can be a little difficult.

Ancient Rome can work wonders for modern Britons: The language of ancient Rome can work wonders for the literacy skills of modern Britons, says Susan Elkin

THEY did not teach us English at my traditional grammar school. Or at least, not in the sense that it is now prescribed in the national curriculum, as 'knowledge about language', nor in the style of the national curriculum proposals for English, with their greater emphasis on spelling, punctuation and syntax. Our English lessons were spent almost entirely on literature and creative writing. Learning about English took place in Latin lessons, and what a sound basis it was.

BOOK REVIEW / Beware the Ides of March: Caesar - Allan Massie: Hodder & Stoughton pounds 14.99

FOR MOST of us Julius Caesar lives, as a schoolroom memory of Shakespeare, in the moment of his dying as he slumps in slow motion beneath the daggers of his assassins. Allan Massie's achievement in Caesar (as in Augustus, in particular, and in Tiberius), is to infuse the mythical emperor with blood, to press succulent marrow into the hollow of his bones.

Only connect: hoi polloi, Dracula, the Reichstag, kudos . . .

TEN PLURAL nouns that you never see used in the singular:

Special Report on Office Automation: Change of emphasis challenges managers: Purchasing decisions should focus on buying the right technology and involving staff where the decision affects them, writes Paul Gosling

STATE of the art office technology changes so fast it could be said to be frightening. Literally so, as a survey published last year by the Institute of Management showed that the majority of managers continue to be scared of computers.

BOOK REVIEW / Found guilty in world literature's blind alleys: 'After Babel' - George Steiner: Oxford University Press, 9.99

TRANSLATORS belong to a class of professionals whom the world takes pleasure in reviling. Like estate agents, solicitors and accountants, they enjoy a function similar to that performed by the 'sin-eaters' of certain primitive communities, whose job was to absorb others' sense of blame for wrongdoing through the consumption of a ritual meal. Should we fail to enjoy, let alone understand, a novel or a poem, we can always lay the guilt on a faulty rendering, with a swipe or two at syntax and vocabulary for good measure. Even the classic interpretations, Dryden's Virgil, Pope's Homer, North's Plutarch (itself a translation translated) are commended with a nudging indulgence normally reserved for the kind of eccentric concert pianist who manages a brilliant performance with only half the right notes.

Letter: The end of the Roman empire

YOUR map illustrates quite clearly the northernmost extent of the Roman Empire as Hadrian's Wall ('Civilisations', Review, 24 January). I live some 50 metres from the line of the wall of Antoninus Pius. To quote from the first chapter of Edward Gibbon's The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire: 'This wall of Antoninus, at a small distance beyond the modern cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, was fixed as the limit of the Roman province.' This wall was occupied intermittently for most of the second century AD.

Lost their marbles

POMPEII (Reuter) - Thieves making off with huge pieces of marble from the ancient Roman city of Pompeii were thwarted when their overloaded getaway car ended up in a ditch, Italian police said.

Letter: Peace in his time

Sir: It seems a great pity that so much attention should be paid to 30 January as the date of Hitler's rise to power in 1933, rather than as the date of the Roman Emperor Augustus's consecration of the Altar of Peace (Ara Pacis) in 9BC. The altar marked the establishment of peace over a large area of the civilised world, including the land that used to be Yugoslavia and the whole of the Middle East. The peace lasted, virtually unbroken, for something like 200 years. Would this not be a better anniversary to celebrate?

Gentlemen always travel by bobsleigh: Rosie Millard meets a group of holidaymakers dedicated to winter sports, Twenties style

A YOUNG man saunters up to me, a large watch on a chain dangling from his tweed jacket. We are in Boisdale's, a small wine bar in central London. 'We always kick off from Boisdale's,' he announces. 'It's the tradition.'

On a fax and a prayer

'Fax your way to heaven' is Israel's new answer to modern prayer, writes Sarah Helm.

Travel: The New Grand Tour: The unholy Romans' empire: The Rome of the imagination, of Keats, Goethe and Gibbon, is as rich as ever, writes Godfrey Hodgson. You just have to accept that modern Romans have a claim on it too

WHICH is the best view of Rome? The cognoscenti cannot agree. From the Janiculum hill, which lies to the west of the city, says one school of thought, and by preference first thing in the morning. Then, says G M Trevelyan, you can look down on 'the city spread beneath our feet in all its mellow tints of white and red and brown, broken here and there by masses of dark green pine and cypress and by shining cupolas raised to the sun', and behind it the 'grander dome' of the Alban mount, from which, some time before 753BC, the first Romans came down to found the City.

Letter: Hebrew farewell to Dizzy Gillespie

Sir: Although I do not particularly like jazz, I was sad to read about the death of Dizzy Gillespie (Obituary, 7 January). When I was a kibbutz volunteer in Israel in 1975, I was fortunate to be present at his concert at the Cesarea Roman amphitheatre.

BOOK REVIEW / Fat Jesus and dancing Paul: 'Live From Golgotha' - Gore Vidal: Deutsch, 14.99

IT SOMETIMES happens that a critic will judge it incumbent on himself (or herself) to preface a review with a 'declaration of interest'. In a similar spirit, if with a slight shift in etymological emphasis, I feel duty- bound to declare a certain lack of interest: before being invited to review it, I was not too well disposed to Live from Golgotha.
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Prices correct as of 17 September 2014
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London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

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