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.

Want some self-help that actually works? Despite being complicated and somewhat intimidating, Aristotle’s “Nicomachean Ethics” is actually a very practical book with advice you can use. In this episode of “Young Heretics,” Spencer Klavan unpacks Aristotle’s profound insights in one of the most life-changing books you’ll ever read.

If you really want to talk pandemics, then let’s talk Julian of Norwich. She lived in religious seclusion, but she understood deeply that there are no guarantees in life—no safety other than in God. In this episode of “Young Heretics,” Spencer Klavan talks through the weird, intense, and powerful visions of Julian and what they say about God and womanhood.

“Gone with the Wind” is the movie they don’t want you to see. Following HBO pulling it from streaming services and then putting it back up with a ridiculous health warning, Spencer Klavan insists on rewatching it. In this episode of “Young Heretics” Klavan proves why the movie is not just a masterwork, but a triumph of American culture in the best traditions of Western art, and a tragedy in the true sense of the word.

Francesco Petrarca, commonly known as Petrarch, lived at the dawning of a new age. He’s credited with helping to revive classical learning when it went dormant, which makes him an excellent guide for our own day. In this episode of “Young Heretics,” Spencer Klavan reads Petrarch’s poems and contemplates how to revitalize the wisdom of the past—not through nostalgia, but through rebirth.

How do you acknowledge the wild forces of the world without letting them destroy you? Euripides, the youngest Greek tragedian whose work survives, asked exactly this question in his radical, boundary-pushing play “The Bacchae.” In this episode of Young Heretics, Spencer Klavan explores how, with the clarity of an artist’s vision, Euripides saw the downfall of Athens coming and spoke wisely into the heart of his moment—and our own.

The Peloponnesian War was one of the most catastrophic conflicts of the ancient world—protracted, brutal, and disastrous for the Athenian hegemony that had grown over the course of the early 5th century BC. In this episode of “Young Heretics,” classical scholar and military history expert Victor Davis Hanson joins Spencer Klavan to discuss the war’s causes, tactics, and consequences.

T.S. Eliot’s God was no mere fantasy or abstraction: he was a tough, strange, sorrowful savior presiding over a world gone terribly wrong. In this episode of “Young Heretics,” Spencer Klavan concludes his series on Eliot by walking through the passages in “Four Quartets” which outline the trinity to reveal what God looks like in the modern world.

How do you find authentic faith in a world that is falling to pieces around you? In this episode of “Young Heretics,” Spencer Klavan returns to his series on T.S. Eliot—this time with a study of “Four Quartets,” Eliot’s greatest Christian work.

Why is capitalism good for music and what does any of it have to do with outer space? In this episode of “Young Heretics,” classical composer Stephen Limbaugh joins Spencer Klavan to discuss the thrilling profusion of musical creativity that accompanied the Belle Époque period. Plus, Spencer and Stephen get into the wonders of music theory, the benefits of patriotism, and the future of American art.

As cancel culture is on the rise, freedom of speech is all over the news. Why do we even believe in freedom of speech in the first place? Take a look at John Milton, the revolutionary firebrand whose writing nearly cost him his life. In this episode of “Young Heretics,” Spencer Klavan explores the connections between Milton’s views on speech, sin, and revolution in “Areopagitica.”

America is not only a great nation, it is also the inheritor of the best the West has to offer. In this special episode of “Young Heretics,” Spencer Klavan sits down with Senator Ted Cruz to talk through the enduring principles of the United States Constitution, their roots in English law, and their relevance for all time.

Does this story from the fall of the Roman republic hold wisdom for America in her troubled moment? In this episode of Young Heretics, Spencer Klavan explores how Gaius Gracchus tries and fails to propose an entirely new constitution. But it’s more fun than that! An unsolved murder mystery, a trip to Africa, and a deadly riot later, we will find our takeaway from this story.

To prevent our own republic from failing, we must look to the wisdom of Western history and find insights from moments similar to our own. If only our elite professors would pay attention! In this episode of Young Heretics, Spencer Klavan explores the “Gracchan disturbance,” a turbulent and dramatic period in Roman history, to find wisdom for our own unsettled times.