Voices

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

TITUS ANDRONICUS

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

Tuesday Books: ONE VIRGIN TOO MANY, BY LINDSEY DAVIS, CENTURY, pounds 15.99 RUBICON BY STEVEN SAYLOR, ROBINSON, pounds 15.99 THE GERMANICUS MOSAIC BY ROSEMARY ROWE, HEADLINE, pounds 17.99

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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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there