St Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, is honoured every year on March 17, with millions of people the world over painting their towns green. Closer to home, The Punchline Comedy Club will be staging an all-Irish show at the Tamarind restaurant, in Wan Chai, on Thursday. Born to wealthy parents in 4th-century Britain, Patrick was abducted by Irish raiders at the age of 16 and sold into slavery, working for six years as a herdsman before escaping. A few years after he returned home, a voice came to him in a dream, urging him to become a missionary and go back to Ireland, where he eventually became a bishop. His life is chronicled in a biography by Philip Freeman …

A professor of classics at Luther College, in Iowa, in the United States, Freeman teaches Greek, Latin, mythology and "anything else really old". As Freeman tells it, as a boy he "cared much more about comic books than Homer or Virgil". Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar have been subjects of other books by Freeman and, recently, he worked on one titled How to Grow Old: Ancient Advice for the Second Half of Life. The book features a series of translations of the works of Marcus Cicero …

An orator, lawyer, politician and philosopher, Cicero was born in 106BC and is considered one of the most prolific writers of the Roman empire. From a young age he set his sights on becoming a powerful political figure and lived by the motto, "To always be the best and overtop the rest". A series of tactical mistakes, however, saw him exiled and then murdered, in 43BC, on the orders of Mark Antony. Cicero's work has remained hugely influential and provided inspiration to key Enlightenment thinkers, including John Locke …

Born in 1632, the philosopher lived through one of the most extraordinary centuries of English political and intellectual history. His writings laid the groundwork for modern empiricism - the idea that our knowledge is derived from sensory experience - and liberalism. Centuries on, interpretations of his thinking abound. One late scholar claimed, in the book John Locke and the Doctrine of Majority-Rule, that, rather than being the individualist many consider him to be, the Englishman was actually a collectivist thinker. That scholar was Willmoore Kendall …

Referred to as the "maverick of American Conservatives" in the title of a book about him, Kendall was a 20th-century political scientist and a founding father of intellectual conservatism in his homeland. Willmoore had learned to read by the age of two, entered eighth grade aged eight and started studying at Northwestern University, in Illinois, at 13, becoming the youngest college student in the country. Kendall, who died of a heart attack in 1967, aged 58, was remembered by one academic as being "the most important political theorist to have emerged in the 20-odd years since the end of the second world war". Kendall got his PhD from the University of Illinois, which has a library named after Richard J. Daley …

Born in 1902 to an Irish-American sheet-metal worker and union activist, Daley is best known as having been the mayor of Chicago for 21 years, from the mid-1950s until the mid-70s. He was called "the last of the big-city bosses" and was one of the most powerful local officials in American history, keeping an iron grip on politics, both as mayor and head of Chicago's Democratic Party. He built up a powerful political machine, but one that was often accused of corruption. As one reporter put it, Daley "basically ran the city the way a dictator would". In 1962, Daley started what has become an annual tradition: he dyed the Chicago River green - in honour of St Patrick.