Chasing Cars

Remarkably, the results of a search for “ancient history” on the jobs.ac.uk website currently include an advert for a Demi Chef de Parti. I cannot help but interpret this as a personal Sign. Back when I had finished my final undergraduate exams, and for various reasons was pretty sure that I’d messed things up to a degree that would preclude any hope of funding for a PhD, I had to think seriously about what I should do instead, and came to the conclusion that I would really like to be some sort of chef. Of course, I had no relevant qualifications or experience, so it was fortunate that the PhD funding did turn up after all, but it’s a salutary reminder of how rarely in my life I have had any sort of career plan. Continue Reading »

The Melian Dialogues

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Attendance is free, but numbers are limited, so please register HERE. Continue Reading »

Very many years ago, when I was writing up my PhD, I was hired by an eminent ancient historian to do some preparatory work for the publication of a volume of their selected articles, including making recommendations on which of their numerous important contributions should be included. The utterly rubbish nature of my performance in this task can be deduced from the fact that said volume didn’t appear until years later, thanks to someone else’s work, with no trace at all of my efforts, and generally I try not to think about it too much because of the embarrassment. But reflecting on the experience does raise some interesting questions today. Continue Reading »

Hunger Games

So, it appears that the app for the AIA/SCS annual meeting – the terrifyingly enormous gathering of US classicists, ancient historians and archaeologists – has a facility for rating papers from 1* to 5*. In a sensible world, I could sum this up in three words, and leave it at that: Meow Meow Beanz. Continue Reading »

2019 on The Sphinx

As I now seem to remark at the end of every December, and yet persist in the belief that things will now be different: it’s been one of those years… I suppose the basic motive for persisting in that belief is that the alternative is uncomfortable; both that I will continue to feel tired all the time and uninspired – but on the edge of inspiration, if only I could get a couple of decent nights’ sleep – most of the time, and that I would then need to take some difficult but necessary decisions about whether I can really spare the time and energy to persist with this blog and all the other random stuff that tends to seem more attractive than solid, sober scholarship… Continue Reading »

Leadership for Dummies

Suddenly the idea that political power should be allocated on the basis of legitimate descent from generations of ruthless thugs, or even on the whim of a strange woman in a lake handing out swords, doesn’t seem so bad, because apparently the alternative – the unanswerable reason why Labour politicians are unfit for government – is the ability to recite a large chunk of material in a foreign language, learnt by heart back at school.

Not just any material, of course. Continue Reading »

Blogs of the Year 2019

Several times this year I’ve found myself musing about the future of blogs, partly because of the apparently inexorable decline of the viewing stats for this one, which raises questions about if/when I’ll hit a tipping point as the cost in time, money, anxiety and the fact I should probably be writing other, more academically worthy stuff outweighs the pleasure I get from writing this stuff. I’m not sure if it’s reassuring or not that this seems to be a wider issue. Certainly, in compiling this annual list of the things I’ve most enjoyed or appreciated reading this year, it gets harder to decide whether some things are ‘proper’ blog posts or rather conventional articles that just happen to be online, let alone to decide I should operate a stricter policy on what I include here, beyond ‘I liked this!’. Continue Reading »