Category Archives: Greek History

A brief history of spectator sports

  

Le Mans 1955: Pierre Levegh lies near his crashed car that killed over 80 spectators /documentingreality.com

Le Mans 1955: Pierre Levegh lies near his crashed car that killed over 80 spectators /documentingreality.com

Most (but not all) of the sports which are super-popular with the public today were invented, improved and regulated in the independent private schools of Victorian Britain; that is to say, what in England are still called ‘the public schools’, as opposed to state ones. The most popular of all – Soccer – was being played in early medieval England, and has always been an almost entirely working-class game. Continue reading

Russians versus the Japanese (1904) & the Turks (4 times in the 19th century)

Marshal Kutuzov / en.wikipedia.org

Marshal Kutuzov / en.wikipedia.org

The fight between the Japanese and Russia was (and is) significant because it was all about control of both Manchuria and Korea. The Japanese launched an unexpected and unheralded assault on Russian warships anchored in their Manchurian naval base at Port Arthur. Pearl Harbor 37 years later was a sequel (Port Arthur now has another name of course).

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The Hohenzollern family

William ! of Prussia / en.wikipedia.org

William ! of Prussia / en.wikipedia.org

Of all the great and influential German families, descending from the mists of time, always involved in something – providing kings, making a nuisance of themselves, being or not being involved in charitable causes etc., the Hohenzollern top the list. There are still plenty of them around, but their power has waned. Continue reading

The Intelligence Services

The new SIS headquarters on the Embankment, London / en.wikipedia.org

The new SIS headquarters on the Embankment, London / en.wikipedia.org

Where dictators or democratically elected governments rule, they need organisations dedicated to the gathering and evaluation of information, mainly concerning the intentions of other states that may not have their best wishes at heart. These are the intelligence services, and they have been in active operation for much longer than many students think.

Some historians insist that it was Queen Elizabeth I, with her faithful Walsingham and his ring of spies, who was the first absolute ruler to insist on full intelligence gathering. This is patently untrue. Continue reading

Historians Polybius, Sallust, Seneca, Suetonius & Tacitus

POLYBIUS (204 – 122 BC) had the good luck (from the intellectual point of view) to be a historian during the rise of Rome after the 2nd Punic War. He was a Greek of noble blood not without political importance, but he was taken toRome with several other Greeks as hostages. This happened after the Roman intervention in Athens by Aemilius Paullus and others. Polybius formed a circle of clever fellows around his captor who became his mentor. Continue reading

The League of Nations

This preamble to the United Nations has vanished without trace. It was one of the oddest disasters waiting to happen the world has ever seen. It appeared after the Treaty of Versailles (1918 – 25) had sealed the fate of this planet. Indeed its creation was the last and most important of President Woodrow Wilson of the United States’ famous ‘Fourteen Points’. Wilson insisted that it should appear in each one of the peace treaties, covering the Covenent or Constitution of the League. But then the United States itself refused to join. Continue reading

Ancient gods at these Olympics

I suppose we are about half way through the London Olympics of 2012 – sad for some, radiant news for others. I suppose I will be accused of being a dry old stick (if not something much worse) but I used to enjoy the Olympic Games when in order to take part you had to be amateur. The moment the Committee plumped for professionals the Games gained a little glamour but lost all interest; for me anyway, and a few more like me. 

   And now the British Royal Mint makes gold coins to celebrate the Games. The coins’ designer explains that his inspiration was the first Games held ‘in ancient Greece, where athletes pledged their allegiance to the gods of Olympia’. Oh dear me no! There weren’t any ‘gods of Olympia’. 

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The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

Almost all our readers have heard of the seven wonders. Some might be able to name them. Fewer will know what the seven wonders of the ‘modern world’ are, and anyway naming them invariably causes dispute. The ancient wonders were the more remarkable because they were made by Man, to be seen by Man.

   I am expecting to be corrected by ardent bloggers, but I believe a list of the wonders was first made up in the second century B.C. Continue reading