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Saturday, 21 November 2015

Greece v Rome ... intelligence squared

On Thursday night Mr B and I went with some friends to a debate, Greece v Rome,  organised by Intelligence² at Central Hall Westminster. In the Greek corner, we had London Mayor, Boris Johnson, arguing the case for the world's first democracy, the satire-loving Greeks, and in the Roman corner we had the formidable Prof. Mary Beard. The billing for the event boasted that, had Mary been in charge, the Roman Empire would still be going strong! And that wasn't hyperbole. For all of Bojo's considerable eloquence and charisma, she wiped the floor with him.

Going into the debate 30% of us (self included) had no clear view, 38% favoured Greece and 32% were in the Roman camp. After Mary had finished her argument, the vote went in favour of Rome as she romped home with a 56% majority. She argued about the enduring legacy of the Romans, how they had built the first super-city in which their architecture was only eclipsed by feats of engineering made possible by the industrial revolution in the 19th century, and about how they had been inclusive extending citizenship to everyone, regardless of their country of origin or how humble their status, to create an upwardly mobile, multi-cultural society.

It was a good-natured exchange that threw up lots of interesting insights into the classical world and both speakers made us laugh. Intelligence² have an amazing programme of debates over the coming months. Videos of many of their past events can be viewed for free on their website: Intelligence Squared. The only thing to bear in mind, if you'd like to go along, is that tickets sell out quickly. So, if you see something that tickles your imagination, book it straight away.

All the best for now,

Bonny x

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