Tag Archives: Rome

19Feb/24

History’s crisis detectives: how we’re using maths and data to reveal why societies collapse – and clues about the future

Daniel Hoyer, University of Toronto

American humorist and writer Mark Twain is believed to have once said, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes.”

I’ve been working as a historian and complexity scientist for the better part of a decade, and I often think about this phrase as I follow different strands of the historical record and notice the same patterns over and over.

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Freedom of thought is being threatened by states, big tech and even ourselves. Here’s what we can do to protect it

Simon McCarthy-Jones, Trinity College Dublin

The idea of free speech sparked into life 2,500 years ago in Ancient Greece – in part because it served a politician’s interests. The ability to speak freely was seen as essential for the new Athenian democracy, which the politician Cleisthenes both introduced and benefited from.

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05Jun/23

Voices of Preston’s Windrush generation – when I first arrived, I said: ‘Really? I thought there were no slums in this place!’

Alan Rice, University of Central Lancashire and Jack Hepworth, University of Oxford

From the earliest arrivals of what would become Preston’s “Windrush generation”, the status of the Caribbean diaspora was hotly contested in this post-industrial Lancashire town, as elsewhere. Discrimination and prejudice dogged the daily lives of people from the Caribbean who made their home here.

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30May/23

‘They just ignored my tears, they ignored my unhappiness’: former Irish nuns reveal accounts of brainwashing and abuse

Karen Hanrahan, University of Brighton

Any thoughts of escaping to a more natural life was regarded as being sinful. The idea of being unfaithful to your vocation was a step on the way to hell. It would be a mortal sin.

These are the words of Mary, my mother. She was just 15 when she entered a convent in Ireland in 1950 and 34 by the time she finally managed to leave. She had been expressing doubts to her superiors since her early twenties but years of “brainwashing” and the very real fear of her and her family facing eternal damnation made breaking her vows seem impossible.

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04Apr/23

The Pope Francis puffer coat was fake – here’s a history of real papal fashion

Carol Richardson, The University of Edinburgh

Before news of his hospitalisation for a respiratory infection this week, a fake image of Pope Francis wearing a Balenciaga-style white puffer jacket was posted to Reddit and Twitter. The image – created through AI programme Midjourney – had many viewers fooled into believing that the head of the Catholic church had dramatically updated his style.

As an art historian and an ecclesiastical historian, the image has fascinated me, not least in thinking about the rich history of papal fashion.

First of all, it caught my eye because it looks like shot silk (fabric made of silk woven from two or more colours producing an iridescent appearance). Intentionally or not, it’s a nice nod to the fascia, a sash worn by clerics over their cassocks.

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14Feb/23

Valentine’s Day’s connection with love was probably invented by Chaucer and other

Natalie Goodison, Durham University

As an undergraduate, on a tour of Europe, I happened to step into the church where Saint Valentine’s head was kept. The tour guide told us a (likely fictitious) story about Saint Valentine performing forbidden marriages for persecuted Christians under the Roman emperor Claudius Gothicus (possibly 269-270 AD). Valentine was then imprisoned and beheaded in Rome.

His saint’s day has since become a celebration of romance. But earlier medieval accounts of Valentine’s life contain no mention of his association with love.

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26Jan/23

Pompeii’s House of the Vettii reopens: a reminder that Roman sexuality was far more complex than simply gay or straight

João Florêncio, University of Exeter

As Pompeii’s House of the Vettii finally reopens after a long process of restoration, news outlets appear to be struggling with how to report on the Roman sex cultures so well recorded in the ruins of the city.

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01Nov/22

Could Russia collapse?

Matthew Sussex, Australian National University

Among the many questions asked about Russia’s disastrous war against Ukraine, one of them is posed only very rarely: can Russia survive what seems increasingly likely to be a humiliating defeat at the hands of its smaller neighbour?

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