Sunday, 27 March 2022

Why Aristotle on Friendship Matters on Mother's Day

 

I'm still sad after nearly six years that I have nobody to send flowers to on Mother's Day. My mother, an outstanding gardener and professional flower arranger, always snorted at the quality of the limp Interflora bouquet sent by her third-born. But she would have hated not receving one.

Aristotle was wrong about women's capacity for deliberation and participation in civic life. But he did think women could be effective moral agents. In one passage of his Eudemian Ethics 7, he implies that they are actually superior to men in the important arena of friendship.

Aristotle's discussion of friendship covers all our relationships, whether with blood kin, sexual and romantic partners or friends we have chosen. He is refreshingly clear that people related to you by blood or marriage can be very bad friends, and that non-kin can display perfect friendship. Blood may be thicker than water, but if it malfunctions it kills you.

 Aristotle asks what makes the best kind of love between any two humans. Some people, he says, prefer to receive love than to give it, which makes for unequal relationships. 

But even more important in analysing friendship is the question of how conscious we are of loving someone or being loved by them.

Being loved is something we have no control over; it is accidental to us. We can be loved without knowing it at all (I always think of when someone, whose identity I never confirmed, witnessed and lodged a complaint about me being sexually harassed in 1990 by a famous Professor). But we cannot love without being aware of it.


If you truly love a person, in the most perfect form of friendship, then you don’t even mind if they have no knowledge of your love or of what you would do or have done for them. You do not ask for the recognition offered to mothers on Mother’s Day. You would do anything and everything for that person, regardless of personal sacrifice, and in no expectation of recognition, thanks or gratitude.

Here Aristotle specifically cites women who under certain circumstances allow others to adopt their children. Even more specifically, he cites ‘Andromache in the tragedy of Antiphon’  (Aristotle developed his sophisticated Ethics in tandem with his love of theatre).


This tragedian apparently wrote a play in which Andromache sought to save her baby Astyanax’s life by sending him out of Troy to safety to be adopted and raised by other people, in the full knowledge that her son would never thank her for her altruism.


Aristotle concludes that the wish to be known as having done a friend a favour is actually selfish, for its motive is ‘a desire to receive and not to confer some benefit’, whereas the person who acts with love without requiring even recognition of their agency does it because they want to see the loved person benefit.


Sadly we do not know whether in Antiphon’s lost tragedy Astyanax did in fact grow up safely far away from Troy. I’ve been thinking about it as I watch children, some without any parents, cross eastern European borders from besieged cities in Ukraine. It is unlikely that Antiphon actually exempted poor Astayanax from death, but it is certainly a beautiful idea.

Saturday, 26 February 2022

The Founding Mother of Ukrainian Literature's rousing Identification with Iphigenia

To mark the gravity of current horrors unfolding, a longer blog than usual, on Lesya Ukrainka (1871-1913), the founding mother of Ukrainian literature, and her identification with Euripides’ self-sacrificial Tauric—Crimean—Iphigenia. 








Larysa Kosach, known under the nationalist pseudonym of Lesya Ukrainka, identified profoundly with Iphigenia. This was partly because she knew that the play was set in her own country, and in a part of it near Sevastopol which she had come to know and love. She had celebrated the landscapes of ‘Tauris’ in her poetry collection Crimean Recollections, written between 1890 and 1892 and inspired by the beautiful environment of the Crimean coastline. 



Iphigenia's experience resonated with her own personal sense of being an exile. She had suffered great loneliness when she struggled with the early death, from tuberculosis, of her lover in 1901. 


As a Ukrainian writer, she was in a dangerous position since publishing in her mother tongue was banned by the Russian Empire. As an active opponent of the Tsarist regime, and a Marxist, she was alienated from the prevailing political order; she had been affected, at the age of 9, by the arrest and five-year Siberian exile of her aunt Olena Kosach in a wave of persecution of political activists in St. Petersburg. 




The little girl was motivated to write her first poem, and many of her later works continued to address political themes: the cycle The Songs of the Slaves is a protest against the political subjugation of her fatherland, written around the turn of the century. 


Ukrainka was herself arrested in 1907, when suffering bitter disappointment at the failure of the 1905 revolution. Moreover, as an invalid with acute tuberculosis of the bone, she was forced by her health into long periods of convalescence in warmer climates as well as sanatoria in the Caucasus and Crimea. Already well into her thirties, she had not only endured a great deal of pain, but also felt emotionally, linguistically, culturally and politically isolated. 


It is little wonder that she worked so intensely during this period on her ‘dramatic scene’, Iphigenia in Tauris, which she began in 1903. Her first language was Ukrainian, and much of her work is connected with Ukrainian folklore. But her avant-garde parents had educated her at home, along with her older brother Mykhaylo (she was the second of several children), in Greek and Latin as well as modern European languages. 




Her favourite reading included Homer and Ovid (both of whom she translated), Sappho (about whom she wrote a poem), the Greek tragedians, Shakespeare, Maeterlinck, Mickiewicz, Ibsen, and Heine. Iphigenia in Tauris is the only ancient play she adapted—as a Ukrainian, who had spent time in ‘Taurida’, it would have been an obvious choice. But she takes Catherine the Great’s triumphant appropriation of the myth of the Greek presence in Tauris, and makes Iphigenia a resistant Ukrainian nationalist and radical, committed to struggling for a better world whatever the personal sacrifice. 


Iphigenia in Sevastopol, Roman-style


The oppressive force in Ukrainka’s Tauris is wielded not by the barbarous enemies of Greece and Russia, but by Iphigenia’s captors, by implication the might of Tsarist Russia. 


 In the reception of Euripides’ tragedy, Ukrainka is singularly important, because she brought to the text an unprecedented fusion of classical scholarship and Ukrainian cultural identity. Her chorus are not Greek, as in Euripides, but local women of the town of Parthenizza; the play is set there, according to the detailed stage direction, ‘in front of the temple of Tauridian Artemis. A place on the seashore.’ (Vera Rich’s translation). 




At a deep and subtle level of allegory, Artemis’ light can combat the darkness which the yoke of Russian imperialism has cast over all Ukraine. Iphigenia embarks on an 87-line soliloquy which expresses her innermost thoughts, memories, and suicidal anguish. 


First, her homesickness—she left behind in Argos everything that bestows beauty on human life; family, renown, youth and love. There is an intense feeling that she is deprived of simple physical contact—the cold marble of her temple is no substitute for laying her head on her mother’s breast, to ‘listen to the beating of her heart’, nor for cuddling her little brother Orestes. Achilles, whom she loved sexually, must be in another woman’s arms by now. 





The notorious wintry weather of Ukraine, noted in few adaptations of Iphigenia in Tauris, is turned by pathetic fallacy into an emblem of the frozen desolation in her soul: 



How mournfully these cypresses are rustling! 
The autumn wind... 
And soon the winter wind 
Will roar like a wild beast through all the oak grove, 
The snowstorm sweep swirling across the sea, 
And sea and sky dissolve again to chaos! 
And I shall be beside a meagre fire, 
Feeble and sick in body and in soul; 
While there at home, in distant Argolis, 
Eternal spring will bloom once more with beauty, 
And Argive girls will go out to the woods 
To pick anemones and violets, 
And maybe...in their songs they will remember 
Iphigenia the renowned, who early 
Perished for her native land....



Looking for metaphysical answers to the problem of her suffering, she tells herself not to contend against the supreme powers that rule the earth, nor the god who hurls the thunderbolt. But her inner self is in restless dialogue. Ukrainka opposes the idea that she should meekly accept her god-ordained fate by asserting that Prometheus had given her the courage to offer her life for her country: 



You, O Prometheus, great and unforgotten, 
Gave us our heritage! 
The spark you snatched
From the jealous Olympians for us, 
I feel the flames of it within my soul,-- 
And like a conflagration, unsubmissive, 
That flame of old dried up my girlish tears 
When I went boldly as a sacrifice
For the glory and honour of my Hellas. 




Iphigenia is on the brink of suicide, pressing a sword from the altar to her heart, angrily asking Artemis why she saved her for such a wretched existence. But once again her courageous, enduring self becomes dominant. Suicide would be unworthy, she says, of a descendant of Prometheus: the true sacrifice demanded of her, she now understands, is that she must live in Tauris without people even knowing who she really is: ‘Let it be so’, she quietly concludes, but ‘Bitter is your heritage, O father Prometheus’. 





While this ‘dramatic scene’ is complete as it stands, and concludes with Iphigenia walking resolutely, ‘with even steps’, back into her temple, we do not know whether Ukrainka intended to incorporate it into a longer piece or not. 



It would be good to know if she had meant to include an Orestes, since she was deeply attached to older brother Mykhalo, with whom she shared the political and artistic project of translating great works of literature into Ukrainian—the bible, Gogol, Heine and Byron. In childhood they had been inseparable, and they collaborated on performing dramatic episodes from Greek mythology, ‘in which Mykhalo always assumed the role of the hero, while Lesya was the virtuous maiden or wife’. It is not at all improbable that they enacted the Euripidean play set in their own Ukrainian land, in which brother and sister are reunited. 



As a very young girl, Ukrainka had also organised stagings of both the Iliad and the Odyssey with other little girls in Volhynia, and it would be fascinating to know whether it was the women or the men in those ancient epics in whom she was most interested, since in the cases of the bible and Greek tragedy, her readings were distinctively gendered. In the voices of ancient Greek heroines she found a medium where she could fuse her personal emotional history, her political polemic and a ‘universalising’ mythical referent that transcended the particularities of her own situation. 



She was ‘especially moved’ by the heroine of the Sophoclean Antigone, and the style of the ancient Greek tragedies ‘strongly’ affected her dramatic writing. In her play On the Ruins she tried to inspire her countrymen to great deeds of self-sacrifice through the words of the prophetess Tirsa, who exhorts her fellow Jews to liberate themselves from Babylonian captivity. This strategy is similar to the uses to which she put the Trojan prophetess in her Cassandra





Ukrainka was a communist and a Ukrainian nationalist as well as a feminist. Her Iphigenia in Tauris was designed to stand alone, as an independent performed drama. It has been staged in the Ukraine and in 1921 was used as the libretto by the Kiyiv composer Kyrylo Stetsenko. It's surely time for a revival.




Sunday, 16 January 2022

Boris Johnson, Tragedy and the Goat-Song

Of his multiple crimes against the electorate, truth and humanity, it’s hardly the most serious, but I resent that Boris Johnson has brought Classics into disrepute. 

And it’s not as though he’s good at it. In October 2021, for example, he suggested to Bill Gates that in order to boost wind power production, ‘We must propitiate to [sic] the Aeolus, the god of wind … sacrifice a goat or something’. But the only fauna associated with Aeolus in antiquity were horses, bulls and kingfishers. 

Johnson’s goat sacrifice reference was a Freudian slip: he knows his actions as PM all end up in tragedy. For ‘tragedy’ is the English transliteration of the ancient Greek tragōidia, from ‘he-goat’ (tragos) and ‘song’ (ōidē). 
Personified Tragedy with a baby hare

But why on earth should the most miserable and earnest genre of literature should be named after an animal whose bleats are inherently comical? The funniest thing on the Internet is the ‘screaming goat’ remix of Taylor Swift’s Trouble. Playwright Edward Albee saw the absurdity of tragedy's etymology in his hilarious The Goat, where a household is destroyed by a husband’s infatuation with a she-goat. 


The week’s news has indeed been tragicomic, and Charlotte Higgins insightfully asks in the Guardian why, at a dark time, we seem to be in retreat from tragedy. So in honour of my first lecture course in my lovely new job at Durham University, Comedy & Tragedy, I’m lowering the tone further by a review of the explanations which have been given for tragedy=goat-song. 

My First Lecture on Comedy & Tragedy in Durham


Dionysus, god of tragedy, appears in early Greek art and literature in association with hares, bulls, tigers, panthers, donkeys, snakes, dolphins and on occasion goats, but (with an extremely rare exception below) not goat sacrifice. Scholars ancient and modern, nothing daunted, have however proposed, rather desperately: 

1] That the prize for winning the tragedy competition was originally a goat. (There is no evidence for this whatsoever).

2] Tragedy may have grown out of satyr drama, and satyrs sometimes have goatlike features or appear on vases shaped like goats’ heads. The trouble is, in the period when tragedy emerged, they were equine. So tragedy should be called hippedy. Or Hip-Hop.



3] The trag- element in the name is an adaptation of another word, like trux (‘wine-sediment’), trachus (rough), or even something with a square (tetragonal) dance formation. 

4] There are faint traces of a story about Dionysus in a black goatskin and the daughters of Eleuther, the king of the village of Eleutherai, traditional home of the cult of the theatrical Dionysus. (The traces are very slight and very late). 

5] (Current consensus): Tragedy grew out of songs sung at goat sacrifices. The evidence is a single line in Euripides’ Bacchae where the chorus sing that the celebrant of Dionysus ‘hunts the blood of a fresh-slain billy-goat, an edible-raw-meat delight’. The trouble here is (i) that the Bacchae were, to their original audience, disgusting man-devouring barbarians who lived at least 800 years before them, and (ii) that goats were sacrificed to practically every Olympian god, especially Artemis and Apollo. As sacrificial animal, the goat is not at all distinctively Dionysiac. 



Priapic but equine satyr sexually harasses a goat

Since the theatregoing ancient Greeks were as mystified by the etymology as we are, by the 4th century BCE (well after all our surviving tragedies) a vase-painter in the theatre-mad Greek-speaking Puglian part of south Italy painted this exquisite vase portraying, I think for the first time in ancient Greek art, a full-on goat sacrifice for a small statue of Dionysus (although the tablecloth sports a bull), complete with knife, a flaming altar and an attendant female with interesting items of bakery on a ritual tray. 



I love this picture, but fear that it is a fantasy invented to explain the origins of tragedy. Johnson’s Classics may be ropey, but perhaps it was from such ancient fantasists that he learned his total disregard for documentable truth. He may also be about to sing, instead of his swan-song, his last goat-song as (goatlike, priapic) PM.






Saturday, 23 October 2021

Remembering Who I am in Padua

 

After an unpleasant academic year 2020-2021, my sanity has finally been restored this week by my first ever visit to Padua (a solo journey I could not have contemplated even a few weeks ago). Its University, founded in 1222, is the fifth oldest in the world. My host was the wry Rocco Coronato, Professor of English, gifted at entitling publications (a recent article of his is ‘The Emergence of Priapism in Two Gentlemen of Verona’).

Elena Cornario Piscopia in the ermine of a Doctor of Philosophy


As Head of the PhD programme in Linguistic, Philological and Literary Sciences, Rocco invited me to address the doctoral students on the topic of women classical scholars in Italy. The lecture will be available online soon. The first woman ever to be awarded a doctorate was Elena Cornaro PIscopia as early as 1678—her topic was Aristotle. One of the most important papyrologists of all time was the inspirational Medea Norsa, who found and published Sappho fragment 2.

Medea Norsa, Papyrologist Extraordinary


Padua is forever engraved on a classicist’s heart as the city founded by Antenor, the Trojan counsellor who in the Iliad sensibly advises the Trojans to give Helen back to Menelaus immediately. But Antenor’s most famous exploit was founding Padua (Patavium), an act described by Venus to Jupiter in some of the most memorable lines of the Aeneid (1.242-9), when she is arguing that it is about time the other Trojan exile, Aeneas, is allowed to settle in Italy too.

Luca Ferrari, THE FLIGHT OF ANTENOR FROM TROY


The historian Livy was himself a Paduan, who retained an accent people laughed at all his life. He even opens his History of Rome with a resounding allusion to Aeneas and Antenor arriving from Troy and the foundation of Patavium ‘in the furthest regions of the Adriatic’. 

Livy has been given a monument in Antenor’s piazza, where an ancient sarcophagus said to contain  Antenor’s body was discovered in the thirteenth century and an imposing edifice built to house it. Sadly, carbon investigation reveals that the bones are not old enough for a Bronze Age hero and indeed one is a female femur.

Antenor's Tomb and Livy's Monument


Padua is famous as the setting of much of The Taming of the Shrew, but the show I went to see in the magnificent Teatro Verdi was Turandot. I made a mistake: I thought it was the Puccini opera, and so I would get to hear the football fan’s favourite aria Nessun Dorma. But it turned out to be the play, with minimal music. It didn’t matter, even though the acting was more declamatory than I’m used to and the plot of course preposterous.



I went back to the hotel to play every recording of Nessun Dorma I could find on Youtube (there are a lot; some are better than Pavarotti), while swigging Valpolicella and scoffing the local speciality, baccalà alla vicentina (cod long basted in a milk and onion sauce, served with polenta). And I really thought seven months ago that I had forever lost my lust for life.

Thursday, 14 October 2021

On Being UnStoic in Zeno's Cypriot Birthplace

 

My Favourite Paphos Mosaic: Ikarios Invents Wine


Regular readers will know that I am neither temperamentally nor philosophically impressed by Stoicism. But I like to visit the home-towns of ancient Greek intellectuals, and so rounded up six wonderful days in Greece and Cyprus celebrating freedom by having a deeply unStoic time in Kition, Cyprus, where Zeno the great Stoic was born at some distance from Aphrodite's birthplace in the west of the island, because obviously a Stoic disapproves of this divinity.

Zeno, not my Type of Role Model

The day started with not going studiously round the ruins of ancient Kition, but waving at them from my wonderful hostess’ Magdalena Zira’s car (she is a former PhD student of mine and a theatre director). It is impossible not to laugh in this vehicle because an imperious lady living in the dashboard constantly gives orders in Japanese, and nobody on Cyprus knows how to shut her up.

Posh Customers Only: Magdalena & Me

First I went to swim on Larnaca beach, not to improve my capacity for self-control and resilience, but to enjoy gratuitous physical ecstasy. Then we went to a world-famous taverna run by Mr Militzis surrounded by fragrant flowers and drank his homemade wine BEFORE NOON. We ate far more than any Stoic would in a week because it was delicious. Moreover, British Airways, with whom we were returning later in the day, no longer think economy passengers have any physical requirements even on 5-hour flights.



Prior to being unStoic in Kition, where I enjoyed staying in a flat where the Communist Party of Cyprus used to have unofficial meetings, I fulfilled a lifetime ambition by visiting Paphos. Aphrodite's town, as my travelling companion daughter Sarah Poynder discovered to her joy, contains even more (deeply unStoic, pleasure-addicted) cats than mosaics or statues of Aphrodite. 

Aphrodite of Paphos obviously needs two different frocks

And we had arrived from the Peloponnese where I had talked, within 48 hours, to audiences at the inaugural Benaki festival, on both Homer and ancient democracy. Hanging out with my classical besties Nat Haynes and Bettany Hughes was a delight.

Advocacy for Aristophanes: Greatest Greek

On Saturday night there was a competition chaired by Nat in a splendid restaurant between spokespersons for The Greatest Greek. I am pleased to say that Aristophanes, advocated by me, saw off Judith Herrin’s Empress Eirene, Yannis Palaiologos’ Venizelos, Bettany’s Helen of Sparta/Troy and Tom Holland’s Alexander the Great. I simply asked whether the audience, if stranded together on a desert island, would rather have icons, unlimited sex, unlimited political ambition/power or laughter plus freedom of speech. I am glad to say that they voted the right way. And nobody nominated Zeno.





Sunday, 3 October 2021

Plutarch's Ten Top Tips for Freshers' Week

When Plutarch’s young friend Nicander started university, the writer sent him a treatise with advice on how to listen to lectures, De recta ratione audiendi. Much of it remains astonishingly relevant today for today’s students, even if I don’t like his first simile and, under no. 3, I think laughing and smiling are perfectly acceptable! 



  1. Don’t Go Mad Socially in Freshers’ Week 
Sudden absence of control from home unchains the impulses towards pleasure and the feelings of suspicion towards hard work. “And just as Herodotus says that women put off their modesty along with their undergarments, so some of our young men, as soon as they lay aside the garb of childhood, lay aside also their sense of modesty and fear, and become full of unruliness”.

  2. Don’t Be Late to Class 
“Some think it only right that the speaker shall come with his discourse carefully thought out and prepared, while they, without consideration or thought of their obligations, rush in and take their seats exactly as though they had come to dinner, to have a good time while others toil.

 3. Lecture-Hall Decorum 
Even with atrocious lecturers, it is imperative “to sit upright without any lounging or sprawling, to look directly at the speaker, to maintain a pose of active attention, and a sedateness of countenance free from any expression, not merely of arrogance or displeasure—not only frowning, a sour face, a roving glance, twisting the body about, and crossing the legs, are unbecoming, but even nodding, whispering to another, smiling, sleepy yawns, bowing down the head, and all like actions, are culpable and need to be carefully avoided”. 

4. Don’t Hold the Class Up 
Don’t be like the students who “hold back the speaker on every possible occasion by inane and superfluous questions, impeding the regular course of the lecture”. 

 5. Don’t Introduce Irrelevant Questions 
“Those persons who lead the speaker to digress to other topics, and interject questions, and raise new difficulties, are not pleasant or agreeable company at a lecture; if it is on ethical philosophy don’t ask about science, maths or logic”. 

 6. Don’t Demand Spoon-feeding 
Some students do no work themselves, “but they give trouble to the speaker by repeatedly asking questions about the same things, like unfledged nestlings always agape toward the mouth of another, and desirous of receiving everything ready prepared and pre-digested”. 

 7.  Be a Good Listener Don’t Interrupt 
Avoid being like “those who instantly interrupt with contradictions, neither hearing nor being heard, but talking while others talk, behaving in an unseemly manner...forward and contentious”. “Guard against proposing many problems or proposing them often. For this is the mark of a man who is taking occasion to show himself off. But to listen good-naturedly when another advances them, marks the considerate gentleman and the scholar. An offensive and tiresome listener is the man who is not to be touched or moved by anything that is said, full of festering presumption and ingrained self-assertion, as though convinced that he could say something better than what is being said, who neither moves his brow nor utters a single word to bear witness that he is glad to listen, but by means of silence and an affected gravity and pose, seeks to gain a reputation for poise and profundity”. 

 8. Don’t Condemn or Acclaim Teachers too fast
For you too are capable of “poverty of thought, emptiness of phrase, an offensive bearing, fluttering excitement combined with a vulgar delight at commendation”. But don’t be a sycophant because you will get “no benefit from the lecture because it has been made full of confusion and fluttering excitement by your continual applause” and you will be regarded as either “a dissembler, a flatterer, or a boor”. 

 9. Ignore Peer Pressure and Make Up Your Own Mind 
Do not distract yourself by turning to look at “the other persons present to see whether they are showing any pleasure or admiration”. Just as when a person leaves the hairdresser “he stands by the mirror and feels his head, examining the cut of his hair and the difference made by its trimming”, you should evaluate the lecture afterwards independently. 

 10. Learn to Take Criticism Constructively 
“Admonitions and rebukes must be listened to neither with stolid indifference nor with unseemly emotion”. Do not laugh at the criticism, “nor listen unmoved, grinning, dissembling in the face of it all”. On the other hand, don’t be demolished by it, “running away if you ever hear a single word directed against you”, because shame has no place in education. “Indeed, even if the reproof seems to be given unjustly, it is an admirable thing to endure it with continued patience while the man is speaking”, but go to him privately afterwards to discuss the matter and ask him to keep his severity “for some real misconduct”. 

I recognise all the types of student Plutarch describes here: I also recognise his less edifying teachers. Here’s to a lovely, civil, constructive and happy new term in lecture halls across the land!




Saturday, 11 September 2021

On Feeling Like Ronaldo

 

Ancient allegations that for selfish reasons I move between jobs too often have recently resurfaced. This blog is designed to put the record straight.

I left my first permanent job at the University of Reading (1990-1995) after being turned down for promotion. I gather I was a victim of a pre-existing feud between two senior males, my Head of Department and a Professor of English who claimed that I was incapable of an international reputation. I would still be there if I had been promoted.

I left my permanent job at Oxford in 2001 because I could not get the Classics Faculty (then Lit. Hum.) to understand that with two children under two I could not sustain the workload they proposed for me, especially since I had just got in for them a huge research grant  that urgently needed administering. Changes in legislation subsequently would have made my life as new working mother at Oxford possible, since my own college, Somerville, was fantastically supportive. I would still be at Oxford if the current maternity rights legislation had been passed, or if the Faculty could have evinced any sympathy whatsoever during the first two years of our children’s lives.

I left the job I absolutely loved at Durham in 2006 because sadly the university did not match the substantial pay rise and wonderful interdepartmental contract, centered on research and with complete exemption from administration, I competed for and won at Royal Holloway University of London. As breadwinner and full-time working parent this was inviting.

I left Royal Holloway University of London in 2012 because the new Principal had tried to shut the Classics Department and I was exhausted after a long (and successful) campaign to stop him. I did not find the macho new management 'culture' congenial. I don’t think it was too fond of me either. I sensed my future there was in jeopardy, otherwise I would still be at RHUL.

On December 31st 2021 I am leaving King’s College London, at which until less than a year ago I absolutely loved working, to return to my favourite ever job (Durham). The writer Colin Teevan once flatteringly said I was the Thierry Henry of Classics because I 'gunned it into goal from the Left'. But now I feel like (a far less talented) Ronaldo.

Ronaldo returns to his northern English spiritual home

I am extremely excited about my homecoming story and will soon have more to say about why Arts and Humanities at this northern university is so outstanding.

Thierry Henry 'guns it into goal from the Left'.