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Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category

A minor update, ‘cos I’m sitting on a train with nothing to read but student essays, on the ongoing development of Thucydides-related games, this time the card-based rock/paper/scissors variant that’s become known as the Peg Game because players accumulate (or lose) clothes pegs and display them as a sign of their power (or lack of it). I ran a version of this at a student Classics Society games evening tonight – it was supposed to be a debate, but not enough people signed up – and because I didn’t have any pegs to hand I tried using the cards themselves as the tokens of power.

This is quite entertainingly fiendish, (more…)

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A country divided; politics becoming ever more partisan and extreme; increasingly violent rhetoric, with knee-jerk defence of your own side and a refusal to accept the slightest possibility that your opponents – now branded as ‘enemies’ or ‘traitors’ – might be speaking or acting in good faith. Not (only) Britain in 2019, or 1930s Germany, but ancient Greece. (more…)

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One of the new courses I’m doing this year – new to me, rather than to the curriculum – is the big survey course on Greek History: 160 first-and second-year students, forty hours of lectures (plus seminars, which are delegated to minions – I’m equally glad not to be doing an extra six hours every fortnight or even every week and sad not to see this side of the students’ development), starting in the Bronze Age and finishing somewhere yet-to-be-precisely-determined around the expansion of Rome into the eastern Mediterranean. No, the title of this post isn’t actually commenting on my knowledge of archaic Greece and the rise of the hoplite, to pick one of many possible examples – but it could be; I have been learning a lot over the last couple of months, refreshing some very out-of-date knowledge, and this is certainly one of the major reasons why this blog has been quiet of late… (more…)

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As my regular reader (hi, Trev!) will have noticed, this blog has been rather quiet of late, as I’ve been struggling to keep my head above All The Things, but I cannot miss the opportunity to add another entry to the small but striking archive of Thucydides Poetry – not least because I’ll probably forget it almost immediately if I don’t. This one is especially interesting, as it hints at a whole tradition of post-WWII classical reception in Poland of which I knew more or less nothing; I would be rushing off to write emails to colleagues in Poland to ask more, except that they are high on the list of people whose deadlines I have missed… (more…)

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Deal or No Deal

Not many posts at the moment as I’m struggling to keep on top of the teaching prep with two new modules this term, plus having to catch train before 7 am on both Thursdays and Fridays which then leaves me staring blankly into space by lunchtime. BUT! I am still capable now and again of stringing together a series of thoughts on the Twitter, which quite possibly get a bigger audience there, but if I copy them onto here I will at least have a record…

In the Melian Dialogue (Choose Your Own Adventure version), the discussion eventually ends up going in circles. There’s actually no limit on how long this can continue, but it’s pretty obvious after a while that talking has reached its limit. (more…)

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WAG the Dog

Somewhere on my ever-expanding list of ‘Things it would be really cool to try if I wasn’t already deep into time/energy/sleep deficit’ is the idea of a video series called Thucydides Explains It All, in which the incomparable wisdom of Thucydides would be applied to the analysis of contemporary issues – not just vacuous speculation about China, but things that actually matter to people. Case in point, which is why I thought of this again yesterday: the Rooney-Vardy bust-up. It was the rise of a new generation of WAGs, and the fear of media obsolescence this aroused in the established influencers, that made conflict inevitable… My wife suggested that I ought to buy a false beard and present these videos as Thucydides; I would much rather hire the brilliant animators who did the ‘Heavyweight Champion Historian’ video, so if anyone out there has lots of money and fancies sponsoring this project… (more…)

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What do you do with, or about, the inconvenient bits of the past, the bits that simply don’t fit with the present and its values or that create an uncomfortable tension? At least for its first two acts, Barrie Kosky’s Bayreuth production of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg seems to adopt Nietzsche’s idea of critical history, holding up the past as something to be judged and overcome, and indeed presenting the past in a way that demands judgement (at the expense, as Nietzsche notes, of anything that could claim to be the ‘real’, complex and ambiguous past). What Kosky holds up for judgement, however, is not the past of late medieval Nürnberg, whose citizens (insofar as they’re supposed to be real, rather than figments of the imagination) are presented on stage as cheerful, simple, well-meaning, semi-anarchic folk, but the past represented by Richard Wagner, and the antisemitic ideas that are taken to taint his work. (more…)

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