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

Thumbs up for a tale of blood, sweat and spears

Gladiator (15) | Director: Ridley Scott | Starring: Russell Crowe,Joaquin Pheonix, Richard Harris, Connie Nielsen; 150 mins

Cheapest seats at Opera House `doubled in price'

DOUBTS ARE being cast on the Royal Opera House's boast that it has reduced ticket prices for its reopening as "the people's opera".

Letter: No one elected

Sir: In view of the chaotic state of the selection processes in both major political parties, can we not follow the example of the Roman emperor Caligula in choosing a mayor for London?

Letter: Price of opera

Sir: Both Diane Sturch (letter, 10 November) and Roger Guedalla (12 November) are right about seat prices at the Royal Opera House; it depends on one's needs. Most people would like seats with completely unrestricted views, but to guarantee this for all performances of Romeo et Juliette one would have to ask for seats in the pounds 100 price band! Most but not all of the cheaper seats in the amphitheatre centre (pounds 70) and in the amphitheatre rear, Ms Sturch's "back of the gods", (pounds 50) would also give this. Anything cheaper, except some standing places, would not.

Thieves steal a Roman column

THIEVES MADE off with the remains of an ancient Roman column weighing 220lb (100kg) and nearly 3ft tall, Italian news reports said yesterday.

Edinburgh: Sex, pies and hideous taste


Books: Pick of the week - Iain Banks Tue Freuds Cafe, Walton St, Oxford

Iain Banks's first novel, The Wasp Factory, was almost a guidebook to grotesque sadism; his other "literary" novels, involving serial killers, random violence, dismemberment and assorted bizarre screwballs, offer similar extreme takes on the world.

Letter: A new era

Sir: The Roman Empire collapsed over fifteen hundred years ago. By contrast the Christian faith is followed by about two billion people around the world and continues to grow, often in the midst of persecution.

Books: Dark doings in ancient Rome


History teaches us that history can't always teach us

Is there any precedent for these Nato raids? I think there is, and I think it is in my own house

The Sketch: A lesson from the man with a trolley full of principles

THERE IS something magnificently senatorial about Tam Dalyell. Not the grey cardigan, nor the green foam cushion that he lays on the benches before sitting down, both of which give him a faintly eccentric air, as if he might enter the chamber one day pushing a supermarket trolley loaded with old clothes and embarrassing documents.

Letter: No Year Zero

Sir: It is frequently but falsely claimed that Dionysius Exiguus failed to put a "year 0" between 1BC and AD1 because the concept of zero didn't exist in European mathematics at the time when he lived, in the sixth century of the era he invented (letter, 11 January).

The lie-in and the unicorn

Love And Peace With Melody Paradise by Martin Millar IMP Fiction pounds 6.99

Words: Testimony, n.

PRESIDENT CLINTON's interrogation last week by the Spermfinder General brings irresistibly to mind a neat but dubious theory concerning an alleged link between the words testimony and testicle. As many collections of trivial information tell us, ancient Roman males, when taking an oath in court, would grasp the region of their nether appendages to attest to the truth of their evidence. That, they say, is what gave us the words testify and testimony.
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A boy holds a chick during the Russian National Agricultural Exhibition Golden Autumn 2014 in Moscow on October 9, 2014.
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Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
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Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
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War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

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Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

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British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
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Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

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After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
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