Everybody knows that the ancient Greek word pharmakon means both healing drug and poison. So how could you tell the (rather important!) difference? In Latin, the equivalent term venenum was similarly used in both senses, and Roman law codes tried to tie down that ambiguity by making it clear whether a ‘good’ or a ‘bad’… Continue reading Poisons and love potions
“Do you want to know a secret?” Knowledge is power, but who knew what about women's bodies in the ancient world?
What’s your favorite plot line? One of my friends is a genius when it comes to recommending science fiction and fantasy books, and not just on the ‘If you loved that, you’ll like this’ principle. I remember once saying to her: ‘Human lost in alien universe, not much happens beyond trying to get used… Continue reading The King Must Die?: Favorite Plot-lines
I was recently re-watching Peter Greenaway’s movie The Draughtsman’s Contract (1982). Set at the end of the seventeenth century, it opens with a series of landed gentry types gossiping, often aiming to shock. After telling them a story from her childhood, one of the beautifully-dressed women states confidently “I used to pee like a horse.… Continue reading Peeing like a horse?
Herodotus has to be my favourite ancient historian. Hailed as both ‘father of history’ and ‘father of lies’, he wrote a history of the time of the Persian Wars that was everything the later Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian Wars was not: racy, dodgy and fond of tangents. It’s from Herodotus that many of the best… Continue reading Bed, Bread and Dead: The Dummies’ Guide to Herodotus