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A huge shout out to a good friend and colleague, the immensely talented Ploy Radford, who has written a very funny piece for the New Statesman about why HBO should get away from the Julio-Claudians and should start to look... Continue reading
Posted May 19, 2016 at Bread & Circuses
For the next week, Die Varusschlacht Stunde der Germanen, which was on N24 earlier this week, is being shown online. You can see me witter on in (dubbed) German if that takes your fancy here. Enjoy. Continue reading
Posted Feb 19, 2016 at Bread & Circuses
Interesting to see that on the rediscovery of Herculaneum there was some debate which city had been found. It was not immediately clear. Some thought that it was Pompeii, others thought that it was Retina/Resina: Upon this discovery, there was... Continue reading
Posted Feb 17, 2016 at Bread & Circuses
Que la campagne de Naples est étrange et merveilleuse! Nulle contrée n'éveille dans l'âme plus d' inspiration, ne donne plus de repos à resprit. C'est la terre des églogues, la terre des géorgiques, ou les montagnes se souviennent des doux... Continue reading
Posted Feb 10, 2016 at Bread & Circuses
A marvelously rude description of Pompeii from William Henry Davenport Adams' Buried Cities of Campania (1868): This third-rate provincial town the "Brighton" or "Scarborough" of the Roman patricians, though less splendid and far less populous than the English watering-places owes... Continue reading
Posted Feb 8, 2016 at Bread & Circuses
Saw ye how wild, how red, how broad a light Burst on the darkness of that mid-day night, As fierce Vesuvius scatter'd o'er the vale Her drifted flames and sheets of burning hail, Shook hell's wan lightnings from his blazing... Continue reading
Posted Feb 5, 2016 at Bread & Circuses
Thanks to Film4 in the UK, I was reminded this week how good the 1941 film Pimpernel Smith is. Starring Leslie Howard, it is an updating of Emma Orczy's novel Scarlet Pimpernel. Rather than set in the days of the... Continue reading
Posted Jan 20, 2016 at Bread & Circuses
Work on Herculaneum is proceeding almost comically slowly, but I have spent time since the new year studying Pliny's two letters on the eruption of Vesuvius - 6.16 and 6.20. They are curious and strangely difficult texts as they are... Continue reading
Posted Jan 16, 2016 at Bread & Circuses
Just in time for Christmas, Félicien David's Herculaneum has been released on CD. The 19th century composer is unfairly forgotten and the opera is rather good. As this review in the Washington Post says: Since 2010, the Venice-based Centre de... Continue reading
Posted Dec 21, 2015 at Bread & Circuses
A regular update on how the SNP is cutting the throat of culture in Scotland. The headlines on finance secretary John Swinney's budget yesterday trumpeted that he had ruled out an increase in Scottish income tax next year. From next... Continue reading
Posted Dec 16, 2015 at Bread & Circuses
A guest blog I wrote for the brilliant Alderney Literary Trust on why we need to look at modern volcanic eruptions if we want to understand what happened in August AD79 when Vesuvius erupted: The photograph taken by the news... Continue reading
Posted Dec 9, 2015 at Bread & Circuses
Research that everyone can get behind. The Musée Gallo-Romain in Lyons intends to recreate the Lyon Tablet in chocolate: Le Laboratoire de Tribologie et Dynamique des Systèmes de l'Ecole Centrale de Lyon et le Musée Gallo-Romain de Lyon se sont... Continue reading
Posted Nov 10, 2015 at Bread & Circuses
The people have spoken... and they really don't think all that much of everyone's favourite Iceni warrior. Last week I posted that I had made the case on the BBC that the defeat of Boudica was the most significant battle... Continue reading
Posted Sep 18, 2015 at Bread & Circuses
Although this blog generally focuses on the classical world, regular readers will know of my interest in Singapore. It is hardly a surprise given that one of the major themes of Bread & Circuses has been the politicisation of history.... Continue reading
Posted Sep 17, 2015 at Bread & Circuses
The British Isles have seen countless battles, campaigns and wars. But which one affected us the most? I make the case for Boudica versus Rome on the BBC this morning. You can vote here. Continue reading
Posted Sep 12, 2015 at Bread & Circuses
Worth it for the fantastic film footage, a great piece from Rai News on Saturday on the discovery of a first century villa in Positano. Continue reading
Posted Sep 9, 2015 at Bread & Circuses
A video report and a good series of three slide shows looking at excavations at Pompeii and Herculaneum from Rai News as well a discussion of some of the difficulties. You can see it here. Continue reading
Posted Jul 19, 2015 at Bread & Circuses
If you are in the US you can see "Hero of Herculaneum", a documentary I worked on last year, on Sunday at 2100 on the Smithsonian Channel. A preview can be seen here. Continue reading
Posted Jul 9, 2015 at Bread & Circuses
Depressing news from Herculaneum. The staff shortages are starting to bite. Visitors have given up seeing the Suburban Baths and even the boat museum, but the whole site was closed on Monday: The ancient site of Herculaneum near Pompeii in... Continue reading
Posted Jul 8, 2015 at Bread & Circuses
For the next week, a documentary I worked on last year - The Hero of Herculaneum - part of the Mummies Alive series is available to watch online. You can see it here. Continue reading
Posted Jun 10, 2015 at Bread & Circuses
My father's translation of Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front is named as one of the best war and history books of all time in today's Telegraph. It is very good indeed. Continue reading
Posted Jun 2, 2015 at Bread & Circuses
For those in the UK, a documentary I worked on last year - The Hero of Herculaneum - part of the Mummies Alive series is on, on Monday 8 June at 2100. Enjoy. Continue reading
Posted Jun 2, 2015 at Bread & Circuses
The Antonine Wall is the northernmost boundary of the Roman Empire. An exercise in military engineering nearly 2,000km from Rome, it was designed and built explicitly as an example of the might of Emperor Antoninus Pius. Though half the length... Continue reading
Posted May 5, 2015 at Bread & Circuses
Novels about the Battle of Teutoburg Forest – the battle in AD9 where three Roman legions under Public Quinctilius Varus were wiped out by a coalition of Germanic tribes under the rebel Cheruscan leader Arminius – do not have an... Continue reading
Posted Apr 27, 2015 at Bread & Circuses
Pliny is all well and good, but I confess that I have always found it difficult to visualise what it must have been like to watch Vesuvius erupt. There are, of course, the news reports of Vesuvius in 1944 (this... Continue reading
Posted Apr 25, 2015 at Bread & Circuses