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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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Dubrovnik, the Dalmatian Coast & Montenegro
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Lisbon, Oporto and the Douro Valley
Lake Garda, Venice & Verona
Spain
Prices correct as of 23 January 2015
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project