I was on In our Time this morning, talking with Catharine Edwards and Alessandro Schiesaro about Seneca, Roman philosopher, writer, and courtier (recently one of the main players in Peter Stothard’s book The Senecans – and it’s in that context that he was freshest in my mind). You can listen to the full version, plus the extra conversation that happened after the end of the programme here.
In our Time has become an institution over almost 20 years. If you don’t know it, it is a very simple formula: once a week, apart from a short summer break, Melvyn Bragg plus three academics (originally two) discuss some humanities or science topic for 45 minutes (originally 30), live. This week it was Seneca, next week the Kuiper Belt.
The fact that it is live adds to the edginess of it. If you make a major fluff, it can’t be edited out; it’s there for all to hear forever. One thing I always make sure I have up my sleeve some halfway elegant way out of a question I really cant answer (“Mary, could you give us a quick summary of what Seneca is actually arguing in the De Vita Beata?” “Well, I think that’s something Alessandro could do a lot more eloquently that me”).