Philosophy isn’t an abstract academic subject: it’s a way of life. After lots of requests, Spencer Klavan sits down in this episode of “Young Heretics” to talk through the Hellenistic philosophical schools of ancient Athens, starting with Stoicism—its roots in Greece, its encounter with Christianity, and what it has to say for us today.

Spencer Klavan answers questions from listeners who have supported the show and want to dig deeper into some of the great ideas of the West. Plus, “Young Heretics” is now on Locals! You can become a Young Heretics VIP by visiting and subscribing for only $4.99 per month.

Why is Game of Thrones better than WAP? Or is it? This kind of question is always flying around on Twitter, especially among conservatives. But it has an ancient pedigree: from Plato’s “Republic” and Aristotle’s “Poetics,” on through Philip Sidney and Camille Paglia, the critics and philosophers of the West have puzzled over what it means to enjoy depictions of weird or even ugly things. In this episode of “Young Heretics,” Spencer Klavan digs into that history to help resolve our modern controversies.

Where do we go from here? Home. In this episode of “Young Heretics,” the series on America’s and the world’s present crisis draws to a close with a survey of localism, from G.K. Chesterton in Dublin to Wendell Berry in America. Spencer Klavan argues that building outward from our immediate surroundings is the key to healing our damaged country.

Is political violence ever justified? The question has never felt more serious in our lifetimes than it does today. The hard truth is, America was founded on political violence, and yet, our founders understood the gravity and terrible cost of their drastic actions. When is that cost worth paying? In this episode of “Young Heretics,” Spencer Klavan takes up that question in light of the Capitol riot and America’s founding history.


When is civil disobedience justified? It’s a question that has loomed over the past year and continues to haunt us. With lockdowns crushing businesses and riots terrorizing the streets, Spencer Klavan begins a three-part series to bring the great wisdom of the West to bear on this modern crisis. In this episode of “Young Heretics” he covers Sophocles’ “Antigone” and the philosophy of nonviolent civil disobedience.

If you learn only one Greek word, learn this one: mimēsis. It’s the explanation of everything—or at least, it describes something profound that governs human nature and the cosmos. In this episode of “Young Heretics”, Spencer Klavan explains how the pattern of mimēsis is everywhere—from the structure of musical scales, to the shape of Creation, to the Crucifixion itself.

It’s a tense moment for America, and there’s a lot of talk in the air of national decline. It’s a good time to be thinking about how things can go wrong. In this conclusion to his two-part discussion on the Roman monarchy, Spencer Klavan explains how kingship tends to fall apart—and what a person can do in the midst of dark times.

Lots of people are thinking it, but not that many people are asking it out loud: is America in for a monarchy in the near future, and would that be such a bad thing? Spencer Klavan thinks the answers are “no” and “yes.” In this episode of “Young Heretics,” the first installment of a two-part discussion, he explains why by working his way through Livy’s remarkably even-handed portrayal of Roman monarchy.

What do you honor most? In this episode of “Young Heretics,” Spencer Klavan offers his prescription for saving the republic: honor virtue and seek to imitate it. He explores the importance of honor in ancient Rome through the thrilling legend of Horatius Cocles, who held up the young republic’s defenses against all odds.

It’s a very Young Heretics Christmas, which can only mean one thing: we are going straight to the good stuff. In his first foray into the New Testament on the show, Spencer Klavan gets at the heart of the story of Jesus’ birth and its meaning in the grand sweep of Western history we’ve been studying all year.

“Liberty” and “liberalism” are overused words—but what do they even mean? Are all kinds of freedom good per se, or do we need boundaries like the kinds provided by religious teaching? There are profound and urgent debates raging on these questions right now. In this episode of “Young Heretics,” Spencer Klavan navigates some of the major issues with his friend and fellow traveler, the academic Brandon Van Dyck.

Herodotus, the West’s first historian, is also much-maligned as the father of lies. In this episode of “Young Heretics,” superstar historian and lifelong Herodotus fan Tom Holland joins Spencer Klavan to explain the genius of Herodotus and the meaning of his myths, from urinating Egyptians to the divine lineage of the Persians and everything in between.

The name Machiavelli calls a thousand things to mind: pitiless conquest, hard-nosed realism, violent death. But who was the man, really, and why did he leave such a mark? Machiavelli was a man in full—humanist, diplomat, scholar, mastermind. In this episode of “Young Heretics,” Spencer Klavan gives Machiavelli the fresh introduction he deserves.

Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” is a gory, nail-biting, creepy romp. But it’s also a brilliant depiction of how the world caves in upon a man who violates the law of God, and how intimate, personal relationships can change the course of history. In this episode of “Young Heretics,” Spencer Klavan dives into his first Shakespeare episode (but certainly not his last) to take a look at how free will and fate overlap to make one of the greatest tragedies in the history of the West.

How you think about your founding fathers determines how you think about yourself. That’s something America is learning right now, and it’s something of which ancient civilizations were acutely aware. In this episode of “Young Heretics,” Spencer Klavan tells the story of how the Trojan hero Aeneas became Ancient Rome’s central founding figure through Virgil’s “Aeneid”—and what that means for politics in Rome and America.

Happy Halloween! It’s a bizarre year—Halloween is basically forbidden in some of the stricter lockdown states. On this special episode of “Young Heretics,” Spencer Klavan, with help from the great American master of horror Edgar Allan Poe, dives into the history of the day and explains why the people who attack it are absurd.

This. Is. Sparta!!!! “300,” the blood-soaked Zack Snyder movie adapted from Frank Miller’s graphic novel, is based on stories of the Persian War told by the first historian ever, Herodotus. But how accurate is “300” really, and does it matter? In this episode of “Young Heretics,” Spencer Klavan tells the real story of the 300 at Thermopylae, and argues that “300” is a better take on the whole thing than you might expect.

The “Maltese Falcon” is a groundbreaking movie and a seminal work of American literature. It’s more than pop culture, though it is pop culture at its finest. It’s also a tale of what it takes to be a man in America. In this episode of “Young Heretics,” Spencer Klavan defends the work’s place in the canon and analyzes its enduring greatness.

One of the biggest lies we’re told is that celebrating our ancestral past is stupid, dishonest, or worse. None of that is true. “Beowulf,” the Anglo-Saxon masterpiece about England’s Germanic forefathers, is a sophisticated tale full of weirdness, complexity, and melancholy—plus, it’s an awesome romp with lots of crazy monsters and sick fights. In this episode of “Young Heretics,” Spencer Klavan uncovers the poem’s greatness.