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Paper Monitor

10:51 UK time, Wednesday, 16 January 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

The poet laureate Andrew Motion (no wait, bear with us) notes in the latest booklet of the Guardian's series on Greek myths (really, it'll be worth the effort) that "myths become memorable because they tell us fundamental truths about human behaviour".

Fitting, then, that the Times quotes the judge who likened Andy Kershaw's fall from grace as a "Greek tragedy" as he jailed the former Radio 1 DJ for breaking a restraining order.

Greek myths. A judge might be thought to be on sure ground with such a topic, more so than, say, who "Gazza" might be or how to shizzle a nizzle. But the paper's resident brainiac, Philip Howard, pours cold water on High Bailiff Michael Moyle's allusion as "hyperbole".

Whereas Oedipus killed his dad and bedded his mum, "visiting one's ex-partner is a petty offence," says Mr Howard. And when the ancient tragic heroes got drunk and acted up, "they committed monstrous sins, such as killing their children".

Then, in Greek tragedy proper, Nemesis strikes. "Three months in jug are no fun, but they hardly compare with self-blinding or being burnt to death with a poisoned robe (Hercules)... Kershaw's punishment cannot be classified as a Greek tragedy in the extreme acceptance of the words without some risk of terminological inexactitude."

Paper Monitor cannot help but think that for a judge, to be accused of terminological inexactitude by the Times - the Times of London, the paper of record - must feel like angering the gods.

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