Weekend Reading: Making Hay

This week I’ve been having a lovely time at the Hay Literary Festival. I’ve always wanted to go in person but never had the opportunity; so this year’s online switch has been very welcome! I’ve been attending sessions from lots of historians and writers – as well as Daisy Dunn, Natalie Haynes and Stephen Fry on the classical side of things. And I could attend them while doing my marking and wearing slippers! So thank you, Hay Festival – and I hope the online offerings continue next year.


Stephen Fry telling stories on my laptop.



I’ve been continuing with the Comfort Classics series, and this week it seems to have gone rather archaeological! Hayley Merchant talked about Trajan’s Column on Tuesday, and Ian Tompkins talked about Cyrrhus in Syria on Wednesday. On Monday and Thursday I got to interview the Partial Historians, whose podcast I love (do check it out if you haven’t!) about the Ara Pacis and a coin of Agrippina. Today’s interview was a return to literature, with Claudio Sansone talking about Archilochus and Sanskrit. (In case you’re wondering, my Sanskrit is rubbish – but I do have a giant Sanskrit dictionary which is super useful for propping up my laptop when I need to use the webcam!)

Also… the OU Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences released my Comfort Classics video interview. And while I’d rather like to hide it, that’s probably not going to work – so here it is, for your entertainment.



I may have Lockdown Hair, but at least I also have a snazzy soundtrack now. And my mural looks nice. Mary Beard is featured rather a lot too – but I checked with her, and she said she didn’t mind!

What you don’t see are the many failed attempts to record myself, on my own, using eBay’s cheapest smartphone. In retrospect, some kind of selfie stand would have been a wise investment. But what I ended up with, after hours of highly frustrating experimentation, was a stepladder, two piles of books and a duster (believe me, the duster proved to be an essential component). Out of shot is a microphone plugged into the cheapy smartphone, a laptop with a script, a child who kept interrupting to ask how long I was going to be, and a cat who kept sticking her claws into my leg.

It’s fair to say that I won’t be doing that again in a hurry!

(I couldn’t help but laugh, because just after I wrote the above I read Mary Beard’s new TLS column on making programmes at home, in which she mentions the phone-balancing issue and even the stepladder! I could have done with reading this two weeks ago…)


If you’re so inclined, do pop along to YouTube and ‘like’ the video or leave a comment, for moral support…!

Finally… next week, you’ll be excited to know, is Classical Studies Support’s third birthday. Will there be cake? Tune in next Friday to find out!






This week from around the Classical Internet




Mosaic found under vineyard – BBC 

Selling a rare coin – The Times

Vindolanda loan – ITV


Lots of people have been recreating famous paintings through photographs; but I loved this Narcissus in particular!




Comment and opinion

Portraits of Helena – Writing Helena 

Horace’s How-To – The New York Review of Books 

Pompeian ‘bed-niches’ – Roman Times

A history of Roman gardens – The Conversation 

Marching in sandals – The Guardian

Online resources – Spice up your Latin! 

5th C BC Athens travel guide –British Museum Blog

Intergenerational trauma and the novus homoEidolon 

Turn of the tide – Sphinx

Herodotus and ‘why?’ – TLS 

Does Homer have flow? – Kiwi Hellenist

Philip and Alexander – Smithsonian  Magazine 



From Classical Studies Memes for Hellenistic Teens



Podcasts, video and other media

The Stolen Eagle –Emperors of Rome

Edith Hall: Classics and class – BBC Radio 4

Aesop and the Fables – BBC Sounds 

Zeno’s Paradoxes – In Our Time

Classics videos on YouTube – Rogue Classicism



From Classical Studies Memes for Hellenistic Teens

3 thoughts on “Weekend Reading: Making Hay

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