A Portal to the Past

With summer quickly approaching, there’s nothing like a good book to lose yourself in – and why not get lost in the colour and culture of the ancient past? Many of our former lecturers have been very busy in recent months researching and writing their latest publications. To celebrate their place in our Classics Community, here is a quick guide to some of our favourites:

Caroline Lawrence: The Time Travel Diaries

Bestselling author of the Roman Mysteries and Roman Quests series, Caroline has just published her eagerly awaited new novel The Time Travel Diaries. Set in the heart of Roman London at the Mithraeum, in which there is actually a portal to the past, her tale follows Alex who must step back in time to solve a mystery… whilst making sure he doesn’t eat anything and doesn’t get into too much trouble! Recently selected by the Times as their Children’s Book of the Week, the Time Travel Diaries is another example of Lawrence’s infectious passion for bringing the ancient world to life for children (and adults too!). Caroline speaks and engages with children at a range of school and public events (follow her on twitter to keep updated) and you can even get lost in this universe by visiting the Mithraeum itself – mind you don’t step into the portal!


Michael Scott: Life in Ancient Greece (KS2)

As part of his commitment to making the ancient world interesting and accessible to everyone of all ages, our President Professor Scott has turned from the small screen to children’s publishing with a new History Essentials guide to Life in Ancient Greece. This fabulous introduction focuses on a range of topics such as childhood, explorers, religion, and architecture as well as some of the most famous Greek ‘inventions’ such as democracy and the Olympic Games. A great way to get young people hooked on the similarities and differences between ancient and modern cultures, you can find the book and the rest of the series here.


Armand D’Angour: Socrates in Love

Professor D’Angour, already a highly respected fellow in Classics at Jesus College, Oxford, rose to international prominence after composing the Pindaric Ode for the London 2012 Olympics and producing the video that went viral following the ground-breaking discoveries and reconstructions of ancient Greek music he made in 2017. 2019 has seen him move in a different direction but once again he has uncovered fresh evidence, this time to help us reimagine and rethink our understanding of the life and character of Socrates. Socrates in Love: The making of a philosopher focuses on the passions and motivations of the young Socrates and finds that his influential thinking was developed and influenced by a powerful woman by the name of Aspasia…


Simon Elliott: Roman Legionaries: Soldiers of Empire

Historian and archaeologist Simon Elliott came to Lytham St Annes last October where he shared with us the findings from his wonderful book Septimius Severus in Scotland and in the few short months since he has published Roman Legionaries: Soldiers of Empire for the Casemate Short History series. A prolific researcher and speaker (and tweeter), Simon has been busy working on Old Testament Warriors, a fascinatingly eclectic survey of innovation in warfare across the ancient world, and he has been whetting our appetite by announcing on twitter the title of his latest work Pertinax: The Slave’s Son Who Became Emperor of Rome.


Natalie Haynes: A Thousand Ships (May 2019)

After the tremendous success of the Children of Jocasta, a retelling of the Theban myths and a fascinating insight into the minds of the female characters from these stories, broadcaster, journalist and stand up comedian Natalie has turned her attention to arguably one of the most famous stories ever told – that of the Trojan War and its origins with the theft of Helen – and she ensures that we view it not as the story of one woman, or even two, but as ‘the story of all of them’. She restores the lost voices of the women, girls and goddesses who have remained silent for millennia and were, within the Homeric tale, restricted to lamentation or silent weaving. You only have a few days to wait until you can read this exciting novel!


Tom Holland: Dominion (forthcoming)

For the last few years, historian and broadcaster Tom Holland has been channelling his energies into his latest passion project – no longer Herodotus, whose Histories he has so lovingly translated and talked to us about this month – but an equally small topic, the history of Christianity! His awe-inspiring zeal for research and his deep curiosity in the history of humanity at the broadest and deepest levels have led him to trace the legacy of ancient Christianity and its role in the transformative development of the Western world and the Western mind in Dominion. Ranging from 480BC to the present day, it is colossal in its scope, but highly pertinent in its analysis, and promises to be a fascinating read for anyone interested in the influence of religion across millennia and in understanding the issues that we face today.


Paul Cartledge: Oxford History of the Archaic Greek World (forthcoming, editor)

Like Tom Holland, Paul Cartledge, Emeritus A.G. Leventis Professor at Clare College, Cambridge, has been busy working on a mammoth task: he is co-editor of a brand new History of the Archaic Greek World which brings together contributions from more than twenty eminent scholars to capture the cultural, demographic, geographic, linguistic diversity and communality of this world using detailed studies of 29 sites, sanctuaries, and regions in Greece during the Archaic period. The work is notable not just for its breadth but as each essay in OHAGW will be built around the same set of eleven rubrics, it will be possible to read either vertically (reading a complete study of a single site) or horizontally (reading, for example, about the economic history of a number of different sites) to form a more diverse yet coherent (rather than over-homogenised) picture of the ancient world. We can’t wait to read this ground-breaking research when it is published!