One state, many tongues

According to the 1st-century CE biographer Plutarch, the last few seconds of Julius Caesar’s life were a snapshot of bilingualism. When Publius Casca, one of the conspirators, raised the first dagger in the Senate, Caesar stopped him, shouting in Latin: ‘What are you doing?’ Terrified, Casca is said to have exclaimed in Greek: ‘Brothers, help!’.Continue reading “One state, many tongues”

Twitter and the ancient epigram

Whether we know it or not, we love epigrams. Whether we like it or not, the ancient epigram has never left us, although we may have left the term ‘epigram’ behind, except when scholars talk about it. The epigrammatic style has always been one of the most popular: concise, funny, incisive. Not anyone can doContinue reading “Twitter and the ancient epigram”

Ancient echo chambers

The good thing about social media, they say, is that it promotes dialogue and exchange. And there’s no better way to test views and ideas than through disputation and scrutiny. Except that social media, as you’re surely aware, doesn’t really do that. Instead, it sets up bastions of like-mindedness. Like-mindedness had been there long beforeContinue reading “Ancient echo chambers”

Poetry, wine and death

The link between poetry, love and death was well established in ancient times. Eros-thanatos is a recurrent theme of ancient lyric poetry. Wine, however, doesn’t usually come into the equation. The so-called sympotic poetry of the archaic age of Greek literature brings poetry in the midst of wine drinking parties or symposia (literally drinking-together), butContinue reading “Poetry, wine and death”