The Story of White Island

June 28th, 2022

A group of strangers tell stories about the mysterious White Island (now called Snake Island, Ukraine) where the spirit of Achilles lives eternally, but they can't quite agree on the details... This story is based on Pausanias, Description of Greece, 3.19.11-13, Arrian, Periplus of the Euxine Sea, 32-34, and Philostratus, On Heroes, 54.1-56.4. Followed by a discussion including Trojan War stories, ancient Greek hero cult, and conflicting folklore tales.

This episode is dedicated to the Ukrainian defence forces.

Content warning: war and warfare, including reference to the current conflict in Ukraine.

The Story of Brutus’ Spirit, from Plutarch

May 4th, 2022

Brutus and Cassius lead a conspiracy to murder Julius Caesar to save Rome from a tyrannical king, but Brutus finds himself confronted by a mysterious spirit that may or may not represent his Fate... This story is adapted from Plutarch, Life of Brutus 36 and 48, and Life of Caesar 69. It's followed by a discussion of the death of Julius Caesar and his relationship with Brutus, the ways in which Shakespeare adapted Plutarch's biography for his play Julius Caesar, and exactly what kind of "spirit" it was that Plutarch claims Brutus saw.

Content warning: violence, a very brief reference to sexual abuse.

The Story of Caligula

February 22nd, 2022

A troubled soul in life, Emperor Gaius Caligula's spirit remains restless in death... This story is adapted from Suetonius, Life of Caligula, 59 and is followed by a discussion about Caligula, King Herod Agrippa, and Roman funerary rites.

Content warning: Some gory details, descriptions of fire, brief reference to infanticide, discussion of mental health including use of a term some may find uncomfortable in the commentary.

The Story of Herlequin‘s Hunt, from Orderic Vitalis

December 21st, 2021

On New Year's Day 1091, the priest Walchelin has an experience that will leave its mark on him forever... This story has been adapted from Orderic Vitalis, Historia Ecclesiastica, 8.17, and is followed by a discussion of medieval faith and belief, ghostly armies and wild hunts.

The Story of Augustus‘ Nursery, from Suetonius

November 30th, 2021

Do you dare set foot in the Emperor Augustus' childhood nursery? They say anyone who does is seized by shuddering and terror... This story has been inspired by Suetonius, Augustus, 6 & 94, and is followed by a discussion of the Emperor Augustus, his life and achievements, and ancient poltergeists.

The Story of Old Hamlet, from Shakespeare

October 26th, 2021

Hamlet's friends have seen something that looks like his late father stalking the castle at night, but what is it, and what does it want? This story has been adapted from Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 1 and is followed by a discussion of Catholic, Protestant and Roman themes in the play and of Shakespeare's relationship to Catholicism.

Content warning: Discussion of suicide and brief reference to baby loss

The Story of Cynthia, from Propertius

January 26th, 2021

Propertius' girlfriend Cynthia has died suddenly, but he hasn't seen the last of her... This story has been adapted from Propertius, Elegies, 4.7 and 4.8, and is followed by a chat about Latin love elegy, Roman funerary customs, and the geography of the underworld, including the famous Gates of Sleep.

The Story of Gui de Corvo: A Christmas Ghost Story

December 23rd, 2020

Christmas 1323 is a sad season for the widow of Gui de Corvo, but it's made even more difficult when it seems her late husband hasn't quite left yet... This story is adapted from medieval texts attributed to Jean Gobi, translated into French by Marie-Anne Polo de Beaulieu. It's followed by a few words on purgatory in medieval ghost stories, and on medieval Christmas traditions.

The Story of Khonsuemheb: An Egyptian Ghost Story

November 30th, 2020

Khonsuemheb, High Priest of Amun, has an unexpected encounter at an ancient tomb with a spirit who needs his help... This story is based on an ancient Egyptian ghost story found on ostraka and translated into English by W. K. Simpson. It's followed by a whistlestop tour through some of the highlights of ancient Egyptian afterlife belief and funerary practice.

The Story of the Haunted House from Pliny, with Tony Keen

October 20th, 2020

A classic haunted house story for Halloween - a philosopher rents an old house with suspiciously cheap rent and the sound of clanking chains in the night... This story is taken from Pliny the Younger, Letters, 7.27.5-11. After the story, Dr Tony Keen of the University of Notre Dame in London joins me for a chat about Pliny, urban legends, the fantastic in the ancient world, and about working for the Roman Emperor.

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