University Challenge

Just watched the final of University Challenge, where the team with two Classicists romped away in the second half. Here’s their captain, who is doing research into Latin literature.

University Challenge winner

Here’s the Telegraph with all the details.

Did the Romans really invent cheques?

Out of all the myriad piece online saying ‘such and such goes back to the Romans’, this is a new one on me, from the Mirror.

The Romans invented cheques in the first century BC By Melanie Wright,

They were called “praesciptiones”. By the third century AD, banks in Persia adopted the system, using letters of credit known as sakks – the origin of the word cheques.

Performance of Oedipus in Bexleyheath

I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this before.

Tickets are now on sale for my production of ‘Oedipus the King’ ( 21st – 28th March, 2009, at the Edward Alderton Theatre, Brampton Road, Bexleyheath, Kent). Price £7.00 per ticket. Performances begin at 8.00 p.m. No performance Sunday 22nd. One teacher ticket free with every ten tickets purchased for students. Book soon to avoid disappointment (020 8301 5584). For further details or a poster contact me, Clive Madel, at

Clive Madel, Head of Classics, Camden School for Girls


Now here’s a potentially good idea that has just come up in my Google alert.

It’s on a site called (English Heritage I think), and has a page for each place.

Here’s the one for Wall. Wall is the one I was sent to first. The idea is that every visitor is invited to take one picture and upload it when they get home, with optional comment on what struck them.

I have visited the Wall site, and found it only moderately interesting, but if I had had the challenge of unusual photo and comment it might have made the visit more fun.

Of course all these initiatives need people to remember and do something about it, so it may be a damp squib. Still, it’s there. I’m not sure the best page to link to, so here’s a fairly general page.

Boris’ Roman Quiz

Boris Johnson has been given a computer game about the Romans (see his blog here) and had the bright wheeze of making it the prize in a quiz about the Romans. Cast a glanceover the questions below, and if tempted follow the link to enter. Classicists of course have a head start, but no doubt the winner comes, fairly, out of a hat.

Q1 The Colosseum is a symbol of munificence from the Emperor Vespasian who presented it to the city of Rome as its first permanent amphitheatre. Its location is a site reserved for Neros private palace. What shape is the Colosseum

Q2. How big was it?

Q3. How long was the Colosseum in use?

Q4 Which insane Roman emperor married his sister and made his horse his consul?

Q5 When Boris Johnson won the battle to become Mayor of London he said he would reign like a certain Roman Emperor.  Which one?

Q6 Which unusual animal did Hannibal use in his wars against the Romans?

Q7 Which famous tv series was based on the life of a Roman emperor and starred Derek Jacobi?

Q8 Which tragedy by William Shakespeare is based on the life of a famous Roman soldier who turned his back on Rome?

Q9 What is the title of the book on Ancient Rome written by Boris Johnson?

Q10 When 5,000 Roman soldiers formed a fighting unit, what was this unit called?

Q11 Which Roman emperor “fiddled while Rome burned”.

Q12 Who is the Roman God of War?

Q13 Translate “Amor omnia vincit”.

Q14 Translate “Pax Vobiscum”.

Q15 Translate “Carpe Diem”.

Q16 In the Shakespeare play, JULIUS CAESAR, which Roman character makes the speech “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears!”

Q17  Which beautiful Queen of Egypt won Mark Antony’s love?