Weekend Reading: Baking and Piranhas

Greetings, all, from South Shields, North East England, where the sun is shining, the birds are singing and the queuers are queuing round Morrisons’ car park. I am pleased to inform you that – unlike almost every other academic on social media – I have not been baking my own sourdough bread while in lockdown.


A misty Arbeia on this morning’s Government-Approved Walk.


No, I’ve been marking (as always!), running online tutorials (no change there), talking to people on the phone, Skype, Adobe Connect and Zoom (ok, the Zoom thing is new) and trying not to panic at the mounting pile of emails (again, business as usual). I’ve also been trying to entertain and educate my son, who is unfortunately showing no signs of being interested in the finer details of my marking. So far my homeschooling has consisted of watching Bill and Ted’s Excellent Journey (as a gentle introduction to 5th century Athens), painting targets on the back-yard wall, and trying to remember everything I ever knew about fractions.

I gave up primary teaching for good reason. I’m rubbish at it.

But lockdown isn’t all bad – so far, at least. When I’m out for my daily walk, nobody stops me to chat. Nobody pops round unannounced. Even delivery people are gone almost before I’ve opened the front door. There’s an element of Introvert Heaven to all of this.

And then there’s the internet. Lots of people, I suspect, have abandoned social media temporarily, because it can be pretty panic-inducing. But those who remain are so starved for entertainment that they attack anything interesting like online piranhas. It’s great fun. Yesterday I had fun following the feeding frenzy among bored Roman historians on Twitter, when former MP Douglas Carswell made the mistake of using the Roman Republic as an example of the dangers of Universal Basic Income:






Mary Beard’s response to this was, I thought, rather restrained. Other people were rather more… vicious. Proof – if any were needed – that it’s unwise to antagonise a bunch of locked-down classicists.





But you don’t have to join in with an enthusiastic takedown of dodgy scholarship to have fun on the internet these days. No – there’s more exciting stuff out there every day. In fact, I can’t keep up, so the links below represent only a few of the things I’ve spotted. I would like to draw your attention, though, to Dr Gina May’s Monday reading group: here are the details…



Quarantine Classics is a new, free, online reading group bringing together people who love talking all things ‘Classics’.  We are all trying to do the right thing and stay home so why not relieve some the boredom by joining the group? Each week for two hours there will be readings from a best-selling book starting with Stephen Fry’s Mythos.  You can either join in by reading a section of the book to the group, or maybe just relax and listen as the book is brought to life by different voices.  The group will run from 2-4pm every Monday afternoon starting on Monday 30th March.  All you need to do is grab a cuppa and a copy of the book then log in and join us.  To reserve a place go to ginamay.co.uk and click on Quarantine Classics or email quarantineclassics@ginamay.co.uk.  We don’t need alcohol gel to join hands on line!


I’d also like to introduce you to my current favourite online resource – the Google Drive of Classics PDFs, set up by Dr Hannah Silverbank, which is full of Classics journal articles, reference works, commentaries and textbooks. Download anything you need, and upload anything you have to share! This is the sort of thing I joined the internet for…

I hope you’re all keeping well and occupied, and baking like crazy. Baking seems to be the way through this, as far as I can tell from the internet. It’s unfortunate that I’m so notoriously bad at baking – I’m clearly missing out on the full Quarantine Experience. However, I do have a cupboard full of Pop-Tarts, so I think I’ll make it…




This week’s links from around the internet

There’s not much Classics news around, so I’m collecting other stuff of interest.


Comment and opinion

Ancient ‘plague lit’ – U of SC 

Writing a Latin crossword – Quinquennium 

Lessons from Ovid’s exile – Eidolon 

The true cost of museum fakes – Hyperallergic

Latin reflective pronouns – Medium

We’re all bored – The Petrified Muse

Martial on poetic obscurity – Curculio

The story of Hypatia – Face2Face Africa

Mary Beard on lockdown – A Don’s Life 

A penis on the screen – Sententiae Antiquae

From Pompeii to Rome – Wanted In Rome

Alexander’s tomb – The Express

Doom! – Sphinx

Pompeii mania – JSTOR Daily




Some places to ‘visit’

Virtual tour of Arbeia – Tyne and Wear Museums 

Virtual tour of Delphi – You Go Culture 

Virtual Museum Tours – Google Arts and Culture 

Twelve great museums – Parents.com


Podcasts, video and other media

Performance of Antigone –Actors of Dionysus

Thucydides Explains Everything – Neville Morley 

Caligula the Living God – Life of Caesar

Et tu, Etna? – Eos

The Sasanians – Emperors of Rome


Free online resources

Open access Classics resources – Institute of Classical Studies 

Latin Resources – Cambridge Schools Classics Project


cat greeks

12 thoughts on “Weekend Reading: Baking and Piranhas

  1. Salve, quomodo te habes?

    Thank you for the Google Drive link – just wow!

    Not trying to increase your stress levels but https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-52033217 might be worth a read

    On brighter news had a WhatsApp video call come in today – answered it and hey presto there was my fav tutor and two others that I talk to and we had a great four way video chat. To be fair it stopped me digging my veggie plot so, apart from the hectoring tones of ‘when are you going to do a PhD’ it wasn’t all bad. The point is the lock down is making people so bored they’re even including me in calls hahahaha. Seriously it is a great time to chat and put the world to rights.

    Love the fishing cat cartoon by the way.



    1. Technology’s certainly taking off, isn’t it? At this rate I might have to learn how to use WhatsApp myself – particularly since both my son and my mother use it! Starting to become embarrassing…


      1. Yet another way I can embarrass the kids and the video chats are free (I always like free)..

        Trouble is with Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and Instagram there’s not time to do anything else. Thank God I don’t ‘get’ SnapChat or TikTok.

        I think I have a MySpace and Bebo somewhere…..

        Liked by 1 person

  2. ‘Introvert Heaven’ – love it!! 😄😁

    “All life is people”
    (Billy Fay album title)

    “Hell is other people”
    (Jean-Paul Sartre play ‘Huis Clos’)

    Self-evident syllogism! 😉

    Thanks for the resources and Quarantine Classics links. Great stuff 👍 I’ll send you some wooden toaster tongs so you can retrieve the Pop-Tarts without searing/electrocuting yourself 😳👌😁


      1. I whole-heartedly endorse wooden toaster tongs! They’re the reason I’m still eating pop tarts at my advanced age.


  3. Hi Cora, nice shot of Arbeia, I missed that one while I was in the area. Sounds like you’ve been having good fun online, our weekly Greek σύνοδος has gone online too, and my latin teacher even dropped in, which made us raise the bar a little! Having someone around who actually knows what they’re doing is a new experience for us amateur autodidacts! 😅


      1. Thanks Cora, I was never fully motivated to write in English on my blog, but now I’ve found the enthusiasm needed to keep up regular weekly posts. Writing Greek is very Socratic as it forces me to confront everything I think I know but don’t really! I’m now on my 5th letter and already more confident writing without constantly checking accentuation online as I had to with the first one! I hope to inspire others to start writing Greek too… Even if my own compositions are a bit kakodaimonos!


      2. Woah, they told you to ignore them? Cool tutors! The accents were always the thing that put me off trying to chat in Greek on social media, which is supposed to be quick like a conversation, so I’d either not bother with accents or else use capitals to avoid the issue. Although the second option is probably more authentic, as the ancients had neither lower case nor accentuation, a sense of netiquette dissuaded me! This last month has pushed me to habituate myself to typing with accents quickly, plus there’s a certain beauty to the keyboard process ᾧᾧᾧᾗᾗᾗ 😆


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