We have some new neighbours. My wife, being herself, has now visited them several times; I, being myself, have confined social contacts to a brief conversation about trees, power lines and squirrels occasionally getting fried on the latter with the gentleman of the house. My wife … | Continue reading | 18 hours ago


It’s a clear sign of the parlous state of the British economy that even the Prime Minister cannot afford an umbrella. Either that, or yesterday’s announcement was somehow intended to communicate that only woke elitists bother with such things, whereas true men of the people will … | Continue reading | 3 days ago


No, there hasn’t been much activity on this blog lately; since getting back from holiday at the end of last month, I’ve been reaping the consequences of managing more or less to stay off work email during the holiday, namely a terrifying backlog of things to do and respond to at … | Continue reading | 8 days ago

The Style Council

Henry Farrell – who has been on a storming run of insights so far this year, and if you don’t already follow his Substack you need to start forthwith – posted an especially interesting piece at the beginning of last month, considering the relationship between developments in cont … | Continue reading | 25 days ago

Twelve Days in the Year: 27th April 2024

Woke around half six; a reasonably good night with only mildly peculiar dreams, but as we’d been up past eleven the previous evening experiencing a Plovdiv jazz club and then walking back over the river to the flat we’re renting, still feeling rather tired. A. hasn’t slept at all … | Continue reading | 27 days ago

Holidays in the Sun

It is not actually the case that I cannot think of anything more ghastly than going on a holiday tour with a group; spending any time on board one of those gigantic cruise ships would be substantially worse. But it is very much not my thing for multiple reasons. However, that doe … | Continue reading | 1 month ago

No More Drama

I’ve spent the weekend in Krinides in northern Greece (south of Drama, to explain the particularly tenuous post title), next to the site of ancient Philippi and the plains on which the Roman Republic was finally euthanased. Actually staying here, rather than being bussed in for a … | Continue reading | 1 month ago


Thucydides knows everything about everything, Part 1283. It’s not enough that he recorded eclipses of both sun and moon, without directly attributing them to divine action – okay, he does claim an increased number of eclipses as grounds for recognising the unprecedented greatness … | Continue reading | 1 month ago

A Different Point of View

I was never entirely convinced by Douglas Adams’ Total Perspective Vortex. The idea – I’m taking this from the original radio series, which I could once recite by heart, so variations in the books are non-canonical and therefore irrelevant – is that every piece of matter is conne … | Continue reading | 1 month ago

Twelve Days in the Year: 27th March 2024

Woken by a powerful, disturbing dream, in which I have had to organise some sort of awayday for graduate students, arrive at the venue to unpack everything and take over the room from the previous group punctually at half past six ready for dinner – only for the leader of that gr … | Continue reading | 2 months ago

Second Coming

I wouldn’t say that it’s been the highlight of this academic year – that would be my lovely Thucydides seminar, for whose final class I spent yesterday morning baking shortbread and brownies – but the most unexpectedly memorable thing, both exhausting and rewarding, has been teac … | Continue reading | 2 months ago

Just An Illusion

Update from the Thucydiocy Bot: Ex-Twitter is now really, really boring. Yes, there are still a few people posting the ‘Scholars and Warriors’ quote to make the same old points about jacked librarians, and a fair amount of boilerplate ‘strong do what they want’ Realism, but there … | Continue reading | 2 months ago

Message Personnel

As someone expensively educated in an imperialist state recklessly convinced of its innate superiority and entitlement, whose once-promising career was derailed by embarrassing failure, I have a far better instinct for Thucydides’ ethos and political sensibilities than do most mo … | Continue reading | 2 months ago

Shoulda Woulda Coulda

We have a new cat bed for upstairs, as the one in which Hans passed away last week clearly still smelt of him, and/or death, even after multiple washes, and the surviving two refused to use it. The problem is that it’s a design which Hector can get his teeth into, literally, and … | Continue reading | 2 months ago

Twelve Days in the Year: 27 February 2024

Woken marginally before the alarm went by A. putting the radio on – she has an even earlier start than usual, with a quick appointment for a routine blood test before heading into work. Got up to do last night’s washing up, remember to take a bread roll out of the freezer for her … | Continue reading | 2 months ago

Everybody Wants To Be A Cat

I don’t know if I have ever been more glad that it’s Reading Week. It has been quite a slog on the teaching front, with a fair amount of marking (students from courses last term submitting revised/expanded versions of their assessments) and a timetable that gives me four straight … | Continue reading | 3 months ago

Slave To The (Algo)Rhythm

Looking for more articles like Daniela Cammack’s ‘Plato and Athenian justice’? You might try M.B. Foster, ‘On Plato’s conception of justice in the Republic’, The Philosophy Quarterly 1.3 (1951) and Stella Lange, ‘Plato and democracy’, The Classical Journal 34.8 (1939). If you enj … | Continue reading | 3 months ago

Twelve Days in the Year: 27th January 2024

A disturbed night full of strange dreams – definitely embroiled in some sort of complex academic scandal and a lot of uncomfortable secrets – I think I was whistle-blower rather than culprit – crossed with complex navigation of the public transport system in a strange city. Aroun … | Continue reading | 4 months ago

Screwface Capital

Amazon is the ultimate marketplace, uniting buyers and sellers across the globe, so you can find whatever you’re looking for, even the most obscure items, or find purchasers for utterly niche and esoteric products. Facebook is a miraculous social space allowing you to keep in tou … | Continue reading | 4 months ago

Walk Like An Egyptian

I’ve been down another random research rabbit-hole this week, responding to someone posting on Twitter – for reasons I still haven’t entirely grasped – a quotation from the 1741 English translation of a 1739 book, Histoire du ciel considéré selon les idées des poètes, des philoso … | Continue reading | 4 months ago

More Than Words

Puny mortals of the pathetic Higher Education System (HES)! In one hour, from this fearsome orbital battle station, I shall release my legions of AI monkeys to scrutinise the publications of every academic in the world for plagiarism! No one’s reputation is safe! This will destro … | Continue reading | 4 months ago

2023 on The Sphinx

There was an interesting article over the holiday period by the music writer Simon Reynolds, about why he still blogs, and I agreed with more or less every word: I’d do this even if no one read it. Blogging, for me, is the perfect format. No restrictions when it comes to length o … | Continue reading | 5 months ago

Twelve Days in the Year: 27th December 2023

Having had an absolutely terrible night’s sleep the night before – yes, Christmas Day indulgence and all, but I’d been reasonably sensible about alcohol, and certainly hadn’t any caffeine after mid-afternoon – slept extremely soundly until half four, albeit with yet more strange … | Continue reading | 5 months ago

Holiday Reading: Blogs of the Year 2023

I had a fascinating little exchange on Bluesky the other day with Gustav Holmberg; I’d made a passing remark about my continuing efforts on this blog, and he observed that blogs are like the vinyl records of social media, the format that refuses to die, and might even make a come … | Continue reading | 5 months ago

Days of Wine and Roses

Some discoveries are huge, significant, epoch-making – the sort of event that gets mythologised, dramatised, reimagined and turned into a Doctor Who Is Trying To Brainwash Our Children With Wokeness social media race row. Others are smaller, more specialised, of little wider inte … | Continue reading | 5 months ago

Give Me More Time

As I think I’ve mentioned before, one of the things I most enjoy about my jazz composition class is being given weekly homework: small doable task that brings a sense of satisfaction on doing it to a satisfactory standard, scope for development if I have the energy, possible to t … | Continue reading | 5 months ago

Straight To Hell

One of the trickier things about trying to research the contemporary reception of Thucydides is that Stuff Keeps Happening. If I’d finished my book by the original deadline, it would have been completely upstaged by COVID – I didn’t even have a chapter on the Plague of Athens in … | Continue reading | 5 months ago


I spent half an hour this morning, before heading down to the station, digging a grave in the rain. My gorgeous Sophie had been going rapidly downhill since we took her to the vet last week for being generally under the weather – weight loss, enlarged spleen, shadow on the ultras … | Continue reading | 6 months ago

I Don’t Want To Talk About It

As I commented last month, the thing that has made an otherwise pretty dreadful term bearable has been the enthusiasm and engagement of the students. Yes, attendance has got patchier in recent weeks, presumably through a combination of accumulated exhaustion and impending coursew … | Continue reading | 6 months ago

Naked Truth

Very powerful concert on Tuesday, the Avishai Cohen (the Trumpet) Quartet at the Cadogan Hall as part of the London Jazz Festival. He’s been high on my ‘must see’ list for a while – one of the many downsides of Brexit is that a lot of the artists I love, especially on labels like … | Continue reading | 6 months ago

What A Difference A Day Makes…

…or at any rate a couple of days. On Monday, I gave a paper in a research seminar. A shambolic, dog’s breakfast, Frankenstein’s monster of a paper. A paper so bloody awful that the only reason I’m still walking around in public is that it was on the other side of the country – yo … | Continue reading | 6 months ago

Twelve Days in the Year: 27 October 2023

The run of bad nights continues; waking some time around three or four (with some part of my brain being already awake, recognising that the rest of me is starting to wake and trying desperately to stop it, to no avail) and then just having to doze until the alarm goes a couple o … | Continue reading | 6 months ago


Justice is possible only when power is in balance. Otherwise the strong exact what they want and the weak simply suffer. The Melian Dialogue as Rorschach test? For well over a century, great powers and their ideologues have taken the Athenians’ claims to be (1) obviously Thucydid … | Continue reading | 7 months ago

Happy Talk

As P.G. Wodehouse almost remarked, it is never difficult to distinguish between Neville and a ray of sunshine. I am Wednesday’s child; my family nickname, still used by my father and brothers, is ‘Marvs’, for Marvin. Yes, I have a terrible pain in all the diodes down my left-hand … | Continue reading | 7 months ago

Little Lies

Contrary to my initial impression just under a week ago, there now does seem to have been a bit of a surge in Thucydides quotes/references on the Ex-Twitter. Not at all contrary to my initial impression, they do seem entirely boiler-plate; lots of vague references to the Melian D … | Continue reading | 7 months ago


Whatever you may think in general of the proliferation of Companions and Handbooks on ever more specific themes, there is no doubt that they are very well suited to handling authors who are complex and multi-faceted, either across their oeuvre (Xenophon’s remarkable track record … | Continue reading | 7 months ago

Everything’s Ruined

It’s hardly the most important thing, but, as many people have observed, events in Israel and Palestine this week have really brought home how far the enshittification, in Cory Doctorow’s term, of the thing that used to be Twitter has progressed. It’s symptomatic that the first I … | Continue reading | 7 months ago

Twelve Days in the Year: 27 September 2023

Slept heavily, which was very welcome after a fortnight of bad nights, perhaps due to the horrible antibiotics I’ve been taking for the last fortnight, perhaps due to the usual work-related anxiety. On a good night, either I can sleep through the cats getting restless or hungry i … | Continue reading | 8 months ago

Ten Years After

What is this blog? Meticulous compilation and analysis of misattributed Thucydides quotes, repository of research too niche and/or random to consider publishing properly, collection of miscellaneous bits of snark and parody, chronicle of an ongoing academic mid-life crisis? Hard … | Continue reading | 8 months ago


Rishi Sunak has dramatically announced the cancellation of a series of policies intended to get the UK to Net Zero by 2050, including taxes on eating meat and compulsory car sharing, that neither the government nor the Labour opposition had ever adopted or proposed. There’s a nam … | Continue reading | 8 months ago

Summer Holiday

It’s not often that I can claim to be following in the footsteps of one of the greats of twentieth-century historiography, but this summer we spent part of our holiday in the small town of Weyer an der Enns, just on the edge of Upper Austria. Walking down the side of the river (n … | Continue reading | 8 months ago

Positively 4th Street

Dear X, Please find attached the revised version of my chapter for your volume. I have endeavoured to address all the many points and suggestions you raised, while still trying to keep hold of the fact that it’s actually my work. You are free to write the chapter yourself if this … | Continue reading | 8 months ago

What I Owe To The Ancients

It can’t be the beginning of a new academic year already. After all, it’s not as if you’ve been having the nightmares… Of course I have; the one in which it’s my first day in a strange place, where I don’t know anyone or where anything is or what I’m supposed to be doing, and […] | Continue reading | 8 months ago

Do It To Me One More Time

Historiography was invented in response to a replication crisis. Herodotus and Thucydides recognised that different people offered different accounts of the same events – that even eye-witnesses, for a variety of reasons, remembered things differently. Thucydides in particular ob … | Continue reading | 8 months ago

Twelve Days in the Year: 27 August 2023

Woken from a deep, exhausted sleep – yesterday was a very long day, up at 02:30 to drive to Heathrow, the usual hanging around, two-hour flight to Munich and then a succession of trains, München – Regensburg – Weiden in der Oberpfälz – Bayreuth, with cancellations and missed conn … | Continue reading | 9 months ago

Money Money Money

I wandered over to Substack the other day, not to read anything,, but because of a growing sense that I’ve been reading quite a lot of stuff there over the last six months or so that, once upon a time, would have appeared on a blog. There’s also been a discussion over at Crooked … | Continue reading | 9 months ago


In ‘Taking the Consequences’, one of Lawrence Durrell’s hilarious short stories about life in the Diplomatic Service, the British Embassy in Vulgaria finds itself “issuing Categorial Denials or Studied Evasions in batches of ten”, as a West German news agency keeps publishing sca … | Continue reading | 9 months ago

And You Will Know Us By The Interminable Appendices

Yes, things have been very quiet on here this month, partly because I’ve been trying to focus on making progress with my book and partly because I’ve been spending most of the rest of the time lugging hardcore from the bottom of the garden – and it’s a long garden, with too many … | Continue reading | 9 months ago