Every Hero’s Journey has to come to an end eventually. We invited Christopher Dole to tell us five tales of heroes who lived their best lives and how they ended. Also featuring marrying beautiful giants and our Wishbone Fancast.
This week, Julia recommends a classic, The Golden Compass.
Content Warning: This episode contains conversations about death, mentions of rape, and mentions of incest.
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Amanda Welcome to Spirits Podcast, a boozy dive into mythology, legends and folklore. Every week we pour a drink and learn about a new story from around the world. I'm Amanda.
Julia: And I'm Julia.
Amanda This is Episode 132: The death of heroes with Christopher Dole.
Julia: Yeah, we pour one out for a bunch of different heroes from a bunch of different mythologies from around the world, and it is a really, really interesting dive into the unifying factors of deaths of heroes.
Amanda I would definitely pour one out for both our new Patreon Morgan welcome Morgan, and our supporting producer level Patreons, Philip, Yore, Christine, Mercedes, Samantha, Danica, Marissa, Sammy, Josie, Neil, Jessica and Phil Fresh.
Julia: Not because they died or anything just because they're so cool, and they're not in our presence, the deserve to have one poured out for them.
Amanda They super do. As do our legend level Patreons. Kelly Cody, Mr. Folk, Talia, Haley, James, Jess, Sarah, Sandra, Audra and Jack Murray.
Julia: I'd pour out a whole bottle of champagne for all of those patients. It was cost us a lot of money, but they're worth it.
Amanda Yeah, sometimes you got to just do the thing that is a little bit frivolous, but definitely worth it.
Julia: Yeah, speaking of pouring out drinks, I poured us a very nice bottle of red wine. One of my favorites, Smith & Hook. I think I've mentioned it before on the show, but it's like a really, really great Washington Cabernet Sauvignon. Highly recommend it. Please go check it out. It's delicious.
Amanda Yum. And Julia, do you have any pairing to recommend with that red wine idiot, a podcast, a book, a TV show?
Julia: You know what Amanda, I actually recently picked up because I don't think I've ever read the first book in its entirety. But I picked up the Golden Compass for the first time.
Julia: And I purchased it and I am now four or five chapters in after buying it on Sunday. And I'm absolutely delighted. It's very good. I can see why it's one of your favorite book series.
Amanda Excellent. I'm so glad to hear it and I actually just recorded a guest episode for, my friends Nicole and Marines' podcast Snark Squad, about the Subtle Knife, which is the second book in that series.
Julia: Yeah, it seems really cool, and I feel like I'm picking up more now that I know the concept of the world, especially in that first two chapters where they're talking about the dust and the-[crosstalk 00:02:13].
Amanda The world building just ratchets up like a roller coaster man, it's amazing.
Julia: I was like with no context, I would have no idea what they're talking about, which is the point. But the fact that I have even a little context makes it all the more better.
Amanda Totally. And if you want to get an even richer context about what it's like to make spirits and what we think about our episodes, you should join us over on Patreon. At patreon.com/spiritspodcast, you can get our behind the scenes commentary for every dang episode, including links to videos and photos and books that inspire us. You can get cocktail pairings, you can get care packages, and you can get a bonus urban legend episode every dang month.
Julia: I love our bonus urban legends episodes. They're always an absolute delight.
Amanda I think actually my favorite urban legend story of all time, was in a bonus about a ghost diner.
Julia: Yes, I remember that one, that was so good.
Amanda I still think about that sometimes when I pass like a closed restaurant on the side of the road, I'm just like, "Not today."
Julia: "Not today. You won't get me ghosts."
Amanda Well, the ghosts can have their ghostly egg creams and their ghostly breakfast specials in their ghost dinners, they're not going to fool me because we are enjoying Episode 132 The Death of Heroes with Christopher Dole.
Julia: Alright listeners this week, we are joined by Christopher Dole, who is the co-creator of Arden. We have recommended the show a couple of times I think now on the podcast. But Christopher welcome so much.
Christopher: Thank you so much. Really big fan of the show. I fell in love with the Tailypo episodes.
Amanda Didn't we all?
Julia: Shout out to Eric.
Amanda We fell some way fell deeper into a nightmare, fell deep into Appalachian folklore. Fell in love, whatever you want to say.
Julia: One day we'll make that Jack Black movie one day.
Christopher: That was one of the stories that scared me the most as a kid and so here it could be like, "Oh, I wasn't a loaded having the shit scared out of me by this."
Julia: I'm glad that we could bring the terrifying legacy of the Tailypo to so many of our listeners who aren't Appalachian.
Amanda I know. Long after we're dead Julia, people will hopefully discover our Mp3s on the dusty old internet, and be like, "Oh fuck, the tail is in his belly."
Julia: So Christopher, what are we going to be talking about this evening?
Christopher: Yeah, so we're going to go with a broad topic, which is, as I discussed, we're calling it the 'Ends of myths and the deaths of heroes.'
Julia: Just such an ominous title. I really, really love it, though.
Christopher: Just to get started off with a little background, say, between the ages of five and 10, the D'Aulaires book of Greek Myths was absolutely my most read book. I just went... I was just all in on Greek myths and also the Norse myths and myths from around the world from a very, very early age. But what specifically attracted me to this topic was in 2017, when I was reflecting on the year of film, and realized that in Hollywood's like big budget franchise films, film characters with a collected like close to 70 years of cinematic history died in franchises that year.
Julia: This is the Star Wars: The Force Awakens stuff and all that kind of...
Christopher: Yeah, the last Jedi, Logan, the Planet of the Apes films.
Christopher: Which is extremely unusual trend, especially with what is the more like common trend, which is you've got recycling, and recasting, and rebooting where you get like five different-
Amanda Spider man's in the last five years.
Christopher: Yeah or like five different Robin Hood origins. The Origins just origins.
Julia: Now we have Archie from Archie Comics who is in a fight club in prison for some reason. I don't watch your Riverdale. But every time there's an episode of Riverdale on I go to Tumblr and just go through the tag, and I'm like, "I wonder what's going on with that? This seems interesting. Someone's a lesbian now. That's sweet."
Amanda I've seen enough of Riverdale to understand this the flailing about the plot that happens on Twitter, which is honestly my preferred way to experience Riverdale.
Christopher: Yeah, the most I know about this most recent season was that Archie got attacked by a bear and...
Amanda So how did these heroes exit where they too pursued by bears? Was there like a commonality in their death?
Christopher: Yes. So um, a lot of times, they were leaving it at a moment where the hero was like this older character who has grown tired and grouchy and disinterested, and has to be brought back in by the younger generation. And then they're allowed to die at a point where they can look back over their lives and say, "Yeah, I did pretty good."
Amanda Okay, how much of that do you think is the movie studios, since we're talking about movies right now, trying to bring in a new generation of viewers and make the older hero relevant in some way?
Christopher: Yeah, I think that is very much the case. And they're of course, interested in doing a lot of franchise handoffs and say, "Oh, now we're going to follow this character who has gotten the nod of respect from your parents generation."
Julia: I'm just thinking of Harrison Ford, and just every movie he's done in the past five years.
Amanda Harrison Ford also came into my mind, but I didn't know which films so I didn't say anything, but I think we're having a moment here Julia [crosstalk 00:08:19].
Christopher: Yes. Yes, that is definitely his thing. Right now.
Amanda I think we get one more Indiana Jones movie before he retires from them completely.
Christopher: Yeah, I think that's his goal. It's also been particularly interesting, at least to me thinking about this topic this year, because right now we have End Game, Game of Thrones is ending. Those are arguably the two biggest cultural touchstones, the water cooler things that we talk about right now. And I don't necessarily hold to the idea that gets put forward that superheroes are modern mythology. I think there are some differences there in the kinds of purposes they serve, and the masters they serve.
Amanda Like what? Give us like a 30 second gloss.
Christopher: Yeah, so I...
Amanda Sorry, I'm just so interested.
Christopher: Yeah, I think a lot of it is the corporatization of it. And there's, I'd say superheroes are halfway between mythology and soap opera.
Christopher: In that there is a vested commercial interest in keeping them ongoing and keeping them in a permanent status quo.
Amanda I don't know. I'm thinking of other... Like when I think of the word hero, I think of the folkloric heroes right, like Robin Hood, for example. And to me, he's like divorced from time, like he's timeless. Don't know when he lived, don't know when he died. You hear stories of him popping up all over the place. And so to me, that's why when you talk about death, or the end of hero, it's just like never a thing that had occurred to me apart from Mally dying in a vagina but-
Julia: The best way to die.
Christopher: Yeah, boy yeah. That was one of the more memorable exists. Yeah, though Robin Hood actually the traditional ending is that he is betrayed by a woman and dies in a church, and fires a last arrow to mark where his grave will be.
Amanda Oh, that's how I want to go.
Christopher: Yeah, it's a good way to go out.
Julia: All things considered.
Amanda I don't think you want to die in a church Julia, I really don't.
Julia: I mean like an abandoned church that's like very creepy.
Christopher: Yeah, it's an abandoned church in the middle of Sherwood Forest.
Julia: What more could you possibly want?
Amanda I'm getting very Cursed Child vibe, and that's all I'm going to say for those who have seen Cursed Child.
Julia: I'm seeing it next week.
Christopher: Oh, boy. Enjoy.
Amanda Well Julia, think about you dying in an abandoned church when you see it.
Julia: I will. I will always think about me dying in abandoned churches.
Christopher: Yeah, just shop around and figure out which one's the best one.
Amanda Like if I shot an arrow from this abandoned church, would my grave be in a nice place? That would really determine whether or not that's the abandoned church for me. We're getting very of topic. I just appreciate the return of the arrow motif because he could have just died in the spot where he wanted to be buried that would have saved them... Or like two feet to the left, that would have saved everybody a lot of trouble.
Christopher: Yeah, it's like, No, he's just committed to this to the very end. This was my thing and I will stick to it.
Amanda But okay, back to heroes dying for real this time.
Christopher: Yeah, so I picked out five stories that sort of like from around the world, that I thought were some of the most interesting ones in terms of what the ends of their story said about the character and how the story storytellers... what they wanted that final message to be. What was the grand overall point of this? The first thing we're going to do is we're going to go back to ancient Samaria.
Amanda My fav.
Christopher: Yeah, to some poems from about 2100 BC.
Christopher: About a-
Amanda Old poems.
Christopher: Yeah. About a fellow named Bilgames or as he's been discussed, in great depth and with great thoughts on this show Gilgamesh.
Christopher: There's about five poems from Samaria that predate the 12 tablets that we know as the Epic of Gilgamesh. Those come from later Babylonian and Akkadian traditions that have been the translations of these poems. The one we're going to specifically talk about is a poem called the Great Wild Bowl is Lying Down. Yeah, at this point Bilgames is... he's an old man. His journeys with Enkidu are long behind him, and the time has come for him to die. He is not happy about it. Even though the Epic of Gilgamesh is very much about coming to accept death as a thing that will come for all of us. As the days grow short Bilgames is relapsing a bit to his old self.
Julia: Yeah. I think it's easy when you're very young and vicious to be like, "Yeah, death will come to me eventually." But when you're like starting to feel for real, that's when you're like, "Actually I don't like this. I'm not a huge fan."
Christopher: Yeah, the key here is that he must learn that even though he is a demigod, he is still part mortal. And in a dream, Enlil the father of the gods comes to him and tells him, "Oh, Bilgames, I made your destiny a destiny of kingship. But I did not make it of eternal life."
Amanda Damn. Also a very polite way to be like, "Are you not satisfied? Did I not do enough?"
Christopher: Yeah, that is basically the message that Enlil gives to him is that you had a great life. You were a hero whose stories will be told for hundreds and thousands of years. Your name will live on. But whoever is born mortal, whether they be beggar whether they be king, you will die. Do not go down to the underworld with your heart nodded in anger. After this pep talk and also learning that he will be gifted a position of judge in the underworld which like out of-
Amanda Gilgamesh loves judging people.
Christopher: Yes, it's like, "Oh, great." It's nominate like respecting the part of him that is a demigod that will live on their Gilgamesh accepts his death and passes on. And then He is buried in the Euphrates.
Julia: Yeah, just like-
Amanda I know.
Julia: Bosom buddies forever.
Julia: Amanda do you want to get buried next to each other?
Amanda I think that'd be pretty complex, given our families and partners and et cetera. But if possible, I think we could have a very cool, like, train a tree to like, grow betwixt to the graves, so it's like an archway. And then it has like dangly vines and or moss ideally, and people think it's cursed, and we're like, "You're not wrong."
Julia: Perfect. Thank you for expanding on my idea and making it better.
Christopher: That's a great spin on the family tree there.
Amanda Oh, yeah. The family tree looks like witches hands, and we are here for it.
Christopher: Yeah, like, I think that poem, and then how it's ultimately translated into the tablets, it's so fascinating that this is basically the first story. This is the first grand epic, that humanity told. And it's all about coming to accept the inevitability of death, no matter who you are. Even if you are someone as grand as Gilgamesh.
Christopher: Especially because for the first half of the tablet Enkidu's the point of view character. It's his hero's journey, whereas Gilgamesh is the guy we're supposed to be in awe and terror of. And then when Enkidu dies, then the story becomes about Gilgamesh struggling to accept it. And it's a thing that he struggles with up until the very end when he is lucky enough to literally get his ass kicked a little by the father of the gods.
Amanda Yeah. Which I appreciate because that's how death feels right? It's like a story that you are centered on and you didn't think would ever end, and then suddenly as a reader you're wrenched out of that narrative and left to pick up the pieces. I just think it's a really fascinating meta textual choice.
Christopher: Oh, yeah. Yeah, for sure.
Amanda After the legacy of Gilgamesh what story comes next?
Christopher: So next, we're going to go to Greece.
Julia: Of course.
Christopher: And we're going to talk about a complicated man.
Julia: Oh boy that could be literally anyone a Greek mythology, let's be real here.
Amanda I was going to say, "Are there any who aren't?"
Christopher: That is true, yeah. So we're going to talk about Odysseus, which I got to say, yeah the Odyssey was my myth as a kid. I had this Derek Jacobi audio book that I just devoured and listened to over and over again. And also lot of credit here goes to the Odyssey episode of Wishbone.
Amanda Oh my god, wishbone though.
Julia: I haven't thought about wishbone in a very long time.
Amanda We should just stop the podcast and re-watch Wishbone professionally.
Julia: Cool sounds good. Sounds good.
Amanda Why is there not a wishbone fan cast?
Julia: I bet there is.
Christopher: Yeah. Why don't you have a wishbone podcast on multitude?
Amanda Give me my wishbone cottage industry. All right, we'll table this idea return to it after the episode.
Christopher: The Odyssey was like I was so in on Odysseus as a kid. And like, "Oh, he's so smart. And he does all these things." And then like part of the experience of growing up is when you realize though your heroes aren't great. Coming to realize the negative sides of his journey, particularly his relationships with women. And what we're going to talk about here is a follow up on his relationship with Circe because of the literature that has survived. We think of Odysseus as the one Greek hero who gets a happy ending. He makes it back, he lives out his life with Penelope and with his son. And, he's had his great epic journey and he gets to settle down. But that was not the case for the Greeks.
Julia: The Greeks never rest.
Julia: Never a happy ending for the Greeks.
Christopher: No. So this is like, always like the thing that you think thought you did, and finished comes back to haunt you, with the classic Greek tragedy ending. There's a lost epic poem known as the Telegony. It's supposed to be by a poet named Eugammon though, he might have stolen it.
Julia: That sounds right.
Christopher: Yeah. There's also a lost play by Sophocles called Odysseus and Acanthopelyx, and the fact that it's like in this many different sources from this many different authors over the years, it's like this was the canonical death of Odysseus at the time. Hubris will undo every man even the greatest of heroes story. When Odysseus leaves Circe behind, what he doesn't realize is that he's gotten her pregnant. His son Telegonus grows up with Circe, he wants to go meet his father and Circe gives him the special spear made out of a stingrays hook.
Amanda Very cool. Probably my favorite weapon is made out of a stingray. I don't know why.
Julia: That's pretty bad ass.
Christopher: Anyway, so Telegonus, and at this point in the story, he wants to meet his father. He's not going there necessarily to kill him.
Julia: That's a good start, we'll see how it goes.
Christopher: Yeah. So However, he gets lost on the way. When he arrives at Ithaca he doesn't think he's in Ithaca. He thinks he's in one of Ithaca's enemies, and he starts plundering it think, "Oh, I'm going to bring my dad treasure from his enemies."
Julia: You should probably confirm the city you're in before you start plundering my dude.
Amanda He just wants approval.
Christopher: Yeah. And so, of course, Odysseus and Telemachus go out to see, "Hey, who's this asshole plundering our city? We're like the rulers, we're going to defend it." And Odysseus is killed.
Amanda By who?
Christopher: By Telegonus, yeah. Accidentally takes that stingray spear to the heart.
Christopher: Yeah. And so then, Telegonus learns that he's killed his father, and then in recompense Circe makes Penelope and Telemachus immortal. Marries Telemachus, and Telegonus marries Penelope, and they all go off to live happily ever after on Circe's Island.
Julia: Well, not the ending I would have thought happened to be honest.
Christopher: Yeah, that one through in a couple twists there at the end.
Julia: There's a lot of marrying people that maybe shouldn't be marrying and some mortality thrown in in the middle.
Christopher: Honestly, it works out for everyone except Odysseus.
Julia: Yeah. But also disease did some shit. So I'm not like upset about him dying. I can't name a single Greek hero that doesn't have a somewhat tragic ending after their main story is finished.
Christopher: Yeah, so I think it's interesting because that story's lost. We don't think of Odysseus as one of those we think of him as the exception.
Julia: Yes. And I think I said that in an episode and then someone sent me a correction about that. I was like, I've literally never heard that story before but awesome, I'm glad he kind of dies. Kind of because I... you know.
Amanda I obviously don't have an expert understanding of Greek mythology, Greek mythology, but it does seem to me to be like a reinforcing the motif that no one is above human error. That, like the gods are like us, human beings are predictable in some ways, we can really escape the fates. And it makes sense that someone like Odysseus, whose life is so defined by like, a comedy of errors, and bad mistakes lead to more bad situations. That I mean, he's not going to live out happily ever after. It's just not in the book.
Christopher: And it's like even someone who was protected by the gods and shepherded by them through all of these trials and decades of struggling, even he can die just like that in a mistake.
Julia: It feels very, the Greeks love the oh, the classic misunderstanding that ends in the death of a king.
Amanda I know I was going to say that seems like an unexpected ending, but truly like the death of the king and incest is definitionally ancient Greek.
Christopher: Yeah, and actually the poet Eugammon his name translates to happy marriage. So it's thought that was his like gimmick.
Amanda Pen name yeah.
Julia: Oh my dude, what are you doing.
Christopher: This was a quite a choice of that.
Julia: It's like if someone was named like something something good wife, and they only wrote Hallmark romance.
Amanda I really love it a lot. It's like drag names before drag names.
Julia: Very good.
Amanda Who do we have up after Odysseus then?
Christopher: Okay, so now we're going to cross the Atlantic, and we're going to talk about a fellow named Red Horn. Yeah, he's from the Ioway and Ho-chunk tribes. He actually has a couple of different names. He's only known as Red Horn in I believe the Ioway tradition. There's a number of traditions where he is known as two variations on he who wears faces on his ears, he who wears human heads on his ear lobes. Human head, earrings.
Amanda The faces on the ears sounded a lot more poetic, but as the names went on, I got the drift.
Julia: It got a little too literal a little too quickly.
Christopher: Yeah, he has faces on his ear lobes.
Amanda I mean, I respect it. So tell us a little bit about him.
Christopher: Yeah, so he is one of five savior figures sent down by the Creator to make the world safe for the least of his creations, humankind.
Christopher: Yeah, and he is the fourth of these five. And there's actually theories that he wears faces on his ears entered these myths late because at the end of the story, he's the only one of the five not given a special domain to rule. Like Bilgames, like Odysseus, he has a number of adventures. Most of them are set against the giant man eaters. Red Horn fights many contests against them, including a game of lacrosse, where the faces on his ears make the giants best player who's this great tall woman with red hair laugh so much that the giants lose and he marries her.
Julia: Wow, love. That very good. Into that very very-
Amanda Why can't all myths be like that. More laughter than expected and a marriage.
Julia: Laughter giant women-
Christopher: Lacrosse like.
Julia: Laughter, giant women, lacrosse marriage, all four things I want in my life.
Christopher: Ultimately, the giants challenge Red Horn, his friend Turtle and his friend Storms as he's walks to a wrestling contest with life and death stakes and-
Julia: Don't do that, bad choice.
Christopher: Yeah, like a winner takes all where you have to win a majority to triumph and Turtle wins so decisively that he kills his opponent.
Julia: Whoa, turtle coming in through the clutch.
Christopher: Yeah. Then Red Horn and Storms as he Walks lose.
Julia: Oh, no.
Julia: Oh boys.
Christopher: They're all killed by the giants. But Red Horns two wives were pregnant, and they give birth and their sons find where the giants are keeping the heads of the dead men and bring them back to life and kill all the giants. Turtle and Storms as he Walks give the boys weapons, but Red Horn does not, instead saying, "I have no weapon to give you, yet I have given you of myself, as I see that you are just like me."
Julia: Oh, I like that.
Amanda This whole conceit is a little bit Game of Thrones season seven but I really respect that. And it's true parenting, right? Like all we can give our... we can give our kids or try to give them all the stuff in the world, but at the end of the day, the only thing that you're short pass on is a bit of yourself.
Christopher: Yeah. Yeah, and I think-
Amanda I say as if I'm a parent. No I just... I have parents and I've gone to a lot of therapy so...
Christopher: It's a beautiful line, and it's a really interesting story, because I think first because of that parental angle, but also he is... Red Horn ultimately fails in his mission to conquer all the bad spirits and yet, he is still able to be a great hero. It doesn't diminish his accomplishments. It doesn't diminish what he's able to pass on to his children. He's still venerated in these stories and myths as an admirable figure.
Julia: Yeah, I appreciate a hero who could fail and die and still be respected.
Christopher: Yeah, that he fails is sad, but it doesn't make what he did worthless. And I think... I feel like a lot of myths miss that.
Julia: I think a lot of people miss that. Like, that's something that I should probably work out a little bit too, through therapy and self-reflection and everything like that. The idea that just because I fail at one thing one time does not make everything else I do worthless.
Amanda Yeah, it's almost like... this is the metaphor that really helps that sink in a little bit for me. Like, if you never.... like they say for college, right? That if you don't get rejected from a college, and you probably didn't apply to big enough colleges or stretch colleges enough. And I try to feel that way for life too like if I never try stuff that I fail at, or things that I'm bad at, and then I'm probably not reaching enough or trying to expand enough.
Amanda So I don't know if that's if that's just my own brain trick but...
Christopher: Yeah, no, I think that's, that's really good. The one that I used was when a few years ago when I was unemployed, and I was looking for work and getting a lot of rejections. It was like you don't need 60 jobs, you need one.
Amanda Yeah, that's the right like 10,000 ways how not to make a light bulb. Isn't that the aphorism attributed to Edison?
Christopher: I mean, that sounds about right.
Amanda Well, before we move on to our next story, why don't y'all join me in the kitchen for a refill?
Julia: Let's go. Amanda sometimes I don't sleep good.
Amanda I know.
Julia: I know this is a very common thing that I've talked about many times on the podcast, but sometimes no sleep good.
Amanda And sometimes you do sleep really well, and then you wake up like, "Whoa, this makes such a difference. Why can I have this all the time? Damn it."
Julia: Oh my gosh, yes. And when those nights happened, where I have slept very, very well. Usually it's because of Calm.
Amanda Yes. I love falling asleep to Calm sleep stories to their soundscapes and to wake up actually to their daily meditations.
Julia: Yes, so calm is the number one app for sleep. And honestly, sleep deficiency causes some serious damage to your body and your brain. And it's just, it's not good. So Calm has a whole library of programs designed to help you get the sleep that your brain and body needs. They have soundscapes and over 100 of those sleep stories that you mentioned Amanda narrated by some really soothing voices like Jerome Flynn from Game of Thrones, which is so weird, but also fantastic. I love it.
Amanda And my favorite narrator is called Erik Braa. And he looks like a like a Thor casting call person, and reads all the stories about rivers and trains, which are my two favorite things.
Julia: I do love a good River. I'm not as wild about trains just because I grew up commuting and god-
Amanda That's true.
Julia: ... I don't like a commuter train.
Amanda But this is like trains that go across Europe and Asia, and they're like beautiful and scenic and there's like the Cornish Riviera Express and it's super poshed and beautiful.
Julia: I love the ideal of the train.
Julia: Just not the reality of the train.
Amanda Yeah, yeah, you want you want a leisure train how to work train.
Julia: Yeah. And when I think about leisure trains, they're quite relaxing and they help me get to sleep.
Amanda Absolutely. So if you want to listen to some of these stories, or take advantage of the many other things that Calm offers, you can go to calm.com/spirits for 25% off a Calm premium subscription, which unlocks all those sleep stories, soundscapes and meditations.
Julia: Yep, that's calm.com/spirits C-A-L-M.com/spirits. 40 million people have downloaded Calm. You can find out why by going to calm.com/spirits. Amanda I love cooking it's probably one of the best ways that I used to de-stress. So the fact that Hello Fresh delivers step by step recipes and pre measured ingredients right to my door makes it so much easier and takes all of the stress out of cooking that could possibly be there. So my stress free thing is now even more stress free. Thank you Hello Fresh.
Amanda That's great. I used to be able to do my laundry and go to the grocery store whenever I dang well pleased, but now that we have an office I am like, "Oh right that's difficult to do." And having the food just sent right to me and get home pick it up, it stays cold and it's box and then I can make a meal that's like healthful and fulfilling. Makes me feel like I've done something for myself and not just come home and like flopped into bed. It's really nice.
Julia: Yeah and the best part is it's a really simple process. So Hello Fresh, does all the meal planning for you, they do the shopping, they do the prepping so you can focus on yourself rather than all the things that you have to get done. And another great part is they deliver seasonal simple recipes and premeasured ingredients so it gets delivered right to your door. The food like tastes like I'm not having heavy pasta sauces in the middle of summer. That's fantastic. Like they're really thinking about the foods that are in season and what's going to taste good and the time that we're in.
Amanda Yeah there was a like summer squash, pork rice bowl the other week, and I am making that like almost every night now. Like I bought all the ingredients for myself and I've put it into my regular rotation never a think I'm going to try it on my own. But genuinely it's delicious squash and zucchini are amazing, and thank you Hello Fresh.
Julia: Yeah, and as you and I get busier and busier Hello Fresh keeps that in mind. So all of their meals take about 30 minutes max, and they usually have only one or two pots and pans as part of putting together the menu. And so that requires minimal cleanup and now I'm not left like hours after trying to clean up a bunch of bunch of dishes.
Amanda Absolutely. And you can actually get $80 off your first month of Hello Fresh at hellofresh.com/spirits80 with the code Spirits 80.
Julia: That's so much money, that's like receiving eight meals for free.
Amanda Wow, that's totally true. You can get $20 off your first four boxes which is $80 off your first month of Hello Fresh at hellofresh.com/spirits80 using the code Spirits 80. And Julia with our sleep in mind with our bellies full, we are able to put our full brain and creativity to whatever we want to do. And a lot of the time building a new project or strengthening a project or a brand that you already have is so important to have an online identity that is consistent, and that makes people remember what you want them to remember about what it is that you do. For me a huge part of that is a domain name, buying multitude.productions through Hover was for me the moment when it really became real. And the best part about owning your own domain name versus getting it through like a web host is that even as your business changes and evolves, you're able to retain control over your brand.
So let's say you switch web hosts or you switch website providers, you're able to assign that domain wherever you want, and not go through like a laborious process of transferring it to a different provider. With Hover you control your information, your privacy, your registrations, all of that.
Julia: The nice part too about Hover is they offer a bunch of different options, right? It's not just the .com or the .org, or the .net. We got .productions. How cool is that?
Amanda It's very, very cool. They also have free WHOIS privacy, that means that if someone looks up the like information about that domain name, usually you have to put in your like home address and phone number, which is not stuff that you necessarily want to do if you are a private person living on the internet. They have free WHOIS privacy which other domain providers tend to do as like an upcharge. But for Hover, they know it's really important, so they include it in every purchase.
Julia: Yeah. So you can go to hover.com/spirits and get 10% off your first purchase of a domain name. Do it. It's very cool. You want that website.
Amanda It's very cool and fun. It feels like I shouldn't be allowed to do this, but I can. It's pretty amazing. That's hover.com/spirits for 10% off your first purchase.
Christopher: So the next story we're going to talk a little bit about because this is a lengthy story, is the story of-
Julia: Give me an upper teeth.
Christopher: Yeah, so this story is the story of Draupadi, the heroine of the Mahabharata. Draupadi is, she is a woman who emerges from a fire fully grown.
Amanda Already such an entrance. I love it.
Christopher: Yeah. And there's a great contest to win her hand and they Arjuna, the third brother of the Pandavas wins. But when he and his four brothers went home with her to see their mother Kunti, they tell her that are Arjuna has returned with excellent alms, and their mother without looking tells him to share the alms, so she ends up married to all five brothers.
Julia: Oh, no.
Amanda Okay. Listen it can work, it can work. Let's reserve judgment. It is a myth, so probably won't. But let's just see.
Julia: No, it wasn't judgment more of a, that wasn't the intended thing. Bad.
Amanda Yes, that was definitely unintended consequence.
Christopher: Yeah. Maybe the first takeaway there is clarity of communication can be important sometimes.
Christopher: She becomes the empress of their empire, she runs the economy, and Treasury, and citizen outreach.
Julia: Okay, doing better than we thought.
Amanda Did see that coming.
Christopher: Yeah, she's doing real well. There's another ruler named Duryodhana who is insulted by her in some stories, in some stories it's the brothers after he blunders into an illusion at their palace and falls into a pool. And they laugh at him because, "Hey, here's this great crown prince who just walked right into a pool.
Julia: I too, would laugh.
Christopher: He tricks the Pandavas into a game of rigged dice, and this next name, I have been practicing the pronunciation. I am going to mess it up.
Julia: Welcome to spirits we don't pronounce anything right ever.
Amanda Lay it on us
Christopher: Yudhishthira the oldest brother of the Pandavas. He loses everything and round after round including his brothers own freedom, his own freedom.
Julia: Oh no.
Christopher: And yeah ultimately Draupadi.
Christopher: However, when she arrives the court, she is defiant. She is like raising legal questions of if her husband already lost himself did he have the right to bet her, like things like that. And just like, "I will not submit to this ruling." And-
Julia: I love her.
Christopher: When Duryodhana gets so angry with her that he orders his servant who is Dushasana her own brother-in-law to disrobe her in front of the court. She prays to Krishna for protection, and Dushasana is unable to disrobe her because her sari keeps getting longer and longer until he collapses from exhaustion.
Amanda Oh, that's so good.
Julia: That's amazing.
Christopher: Yeah. And then the Queen Mother arrives, and Draupadi is granted boons by her. And with... she's granted two boons. One is securing the one husband who she'd have a son with freedom so that her son is not a slave. Then she secures the other brothers freedom. And then, when asked about her own freedom, she says it was not her place to ask for it and is granted yet.
Julia: Smart. Be humble.
Amanda Yeah, I love it.
Christopher: Yeah. And then like, war breaks out. There is a legend that in the war, she washes her hair in the blood of the man who attempted to disrobe her in front of the court.
Julia: Fuck yeah.
Christopher: Yeah, the that's not in the original Mahabharata, that is added later.
Julia: Still a good addition.
Amanda This is some Amanda and Julia bait right here.
Christopher: Yeah, and then ultimately, the Pandavas decide to retire from the world and climb the Himalayas to heaven and she joins them on. Unfortunately, she passes away as the first one to do.
Amanda Oh no.
Christopher: Yeah, but while-
Julia: To good for this world.
Christopher: Well, there is something coming here.
Julia: Oh, I pulled an Amanda where I guessed something ahead of time.
Christopher: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Christopher: While her husband's believe that the reason she passed away was because she suffered the sin of partiality that kept her from heaven, when the one husband, Yudhishthira who is the only one to reach heaven on the climb, he's told that she and his other brothers who died on the climb have already achieved heaven, and are waiting for him there. And she is revealed to be an avatar of Shakti, the divine feminine.
Julia: That's so good. I love that so much.
Christopher: It's an amazing story. And I highly recommend reading the essay for dangerouswomenproject.org. About drop Draupadi by, let's see, it is by Naomi Appleton. And it is... The title is Why is Draupadi a Dangerous Woman. Gender politics in ancient Hindu epic literature.
Julia: I'm going to pull that up and read it tomorrow.
Amanda Adding to my Pocket right now.
Christopher: Yeah, but she's such a remarkable character because she's fiery, she's passionate, she will not keep quiet even though she is doubted, abducted, treated as alms like, and then she keeps finding a way to not be taken over by her circumstances, but to make her circumstances work for her.
Christopher: To not just rise above but take all of those things into her and become greater than the sum of those parts.
Amanda Well put.
Christopher: And then ultimately, she's revealed to be a personification of the divine maternal. And it's a extraordinary ending. Because, so often in these old myths you'll get the story of like, going back to Gilgamesh, the male demigod figure who after death is... gets to live on as that divine self. But this, I think, is such a powerful version of that traditional mythic story.
Amanda And what a cinematic ending to like, at the top of the Himalayas talking to heaven. That's Wow.
Christopher: Yeah, there's also a pretty delightful detail that when Yudhishthira reaches there, he... the one companion that has survived the climb with him is his dog, and he insists the dog get to come along, and it does.
Julia: All dogs go to heaven.
Amanda Just when you thought this myth couldn't get any better, there's pups.
Julia: It's the best story I think, so far. I've really enjoyed that one.
Amanda I think you mentioned you brought five stories for us.
Amanda What is the last one?
Christopher: The last one, we are going to Denmark and-
Julia: Not what I expected.
Amanda Always a good start.
Christopher: And we're going to talk about a fellow named Amleft. He's the son of the King Horwendel. And Horwendel has this jealous evil brother named Thangone and when Amleft is a child Thangone publicly murders Horwendel and takes the throne. And the question on everyone's mind is well, when Amleft grows up, clearly, he's going to get revenge because that is the thing that is in style. That is the thing to do.
Julia: That's what one.
Amanda Sure like taxes and stuff, whatever. But also revenge.
Christopher: Yeah. What Amleft ultimately does to because he thinks, "Well thank god knows that's what's expected of me, so I should probably figure out a way to not have him kill me first. Even though I'm a kid. It's like, dude, kill this brother publicly. He's not going to have many scruples here."
Julia: He's not like, "Oh, yes, a child can't murder that." Team pro murder.
Christopher: Yes, indeed. So what Amleft does is he plays foolish, because it's like, "Well, if he thinks I'm an idiot, then that will mean I'm no threat to him." And over the years, he just acts like a complete fool. And Thangone rightly suspicious, is like, "I'm going to keep testing this. First, I'm going to send a woman to like, tempt him. Then I'm going to send a person to spy on him. But Amleft sees through the woman, and the spy he kills cuts up feeds to the pigs like you do. Yeah. And then what Thangone ultimately decides to do is, "I'm going to send him to England with a couple of my guys who will tell the English King who's my vassal to kill the kid for me."
Julia: This is getting very Hamlet very quickly.
Amanda So Hamlet.
Julia: Okay, good Amanda and I are on the same page here.
Amanda I mean, Shakespeare probably used this as source material am I right?
Christopher: Yeah, that's what we're getting to.
Amanda Oh, good, good, good.
Christopher: Yeah so.
Julia: Where's the mom jealousy? Come on.
Christopher: Yeah. So what happens actually, is that he goes to England, convinces the English King to kill his uncle servants, woes the king's daughter, returns to Denmark stabs his uncle and becomes King.
Christopher: Yeah. And then he, there's some old stories where he then sub subsequently dies in battle. However, there's an English author named Bell Forest, who was the first one to translate this story into English. Who has his death at the hands of a Scottish Queen, who had promised to slay all her wooers. Yes, so at the time, in the like, late 1500s, this story was being used as basically a "don't trust women", like telltale. It was, had been perverted into that. And we would not remember this story at all if Shakespeare didn't rescue it from that.
Julia: Shakespeare made it better.
Christopher: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Julia: A little bit.
Amanda Wow I never would have guessed that that was the... I mean, there's obviously some issues with women in Hamlet, but it didn't feel like that was the logical conclusion to that story.
Christopher: And it is, I think such an interesting example of how a story can change depending on who's telling it, because yeah, the initial Hamlet story is basically... It's basically a Danish fan fiction of the Lucious Brutus story from Roman mythology, where there is a wicked uncle who kills the father and the nephew must grow up to avenge him. It's like this... Yeah, this story is replicated in a lot of cultures over the world. But this particular iteration nearly just became a footnote until it wasn't.
Julia: Thank Shakespeare.
Amanda That's fascinating, yeah.
Julia: Rescuing another piece of history.
Amanda And teaching us how to say Scone.
Julia: Scone. Every once a while Amanda gets so mad because I remind her that we did a production of Macbeth and the guy got the thing right the entire time. And then the last line, "To see us crowned at Scone."
Amanda Scone shit!
Julia: The lights went out.
Amanda It's the literal last line of the show, I had no more sound cues. At least on the last night, you don't have to take notes on what has to change tomorrow because it's the last night. Am I right stage managers? Hit me up. Well, what a tour. We hit all over the world. We hit so many kinds of deaths. I love how many mythology archetypes there are here. Both stories we can predict Odysseus, and ones that we can't.
Christopher: Yeah, also Odysseus.
Amanda God dammit Odysseus. Just a category of is own in so many ways.
Christopher: Yes. Yes, indeed.
Amanda I feel like I have to reread Circe now.
Julia: Yeah, really do.
Amanda You know that Lush started a book club and their first pick was Circe.
Julia: That makes so much sense.
Amanda I was like, well done.
Julia: Good job, Lush. Good bath bombs and good choice in books.
Amanda Alright, so Christopher, thank you so much for giving us this tour and opportunity to talk about deaths of heroes with you. It was so good.
Christopher: Yeah, thank you. No, it was a real pleasure to be here. I've been such a big fan of the shows. It was great to be able to just talk about anything, let alone this.
Julia: Yeah, I was so excited-
Amanda I don't think we made a Harry Potter reference yet, so let's just get one in before you leave. Any takers?
Christopher: Oh boy. Let's see here.
Amanda Maybe Hermione as an instantiation of competent women who take their circumstances and turn them for the better.
Julia: I think that Minerva McGonigal was probably that Scottish queen who was murdering all of her suitors.
Amanda Yes Julia.
Julia: Cool. Okay we-
Amanda Oh yeah, okay.
Christopher: Amleft could have really used the invisibility cloak in that case.
Christopher: Could he use those Deathly Hallows.
Amanda Well, I want to give you Christopher the full Spirits experience. We talked about high school theater, we made lots of references. I misheard something, and here we are with our Harry Potter reference. So now you have your full scout badge.
Christopher: Getting it in under the bell.
Julia: There we go.
Amanda Now and listeners, I hope you share with us on Twitter, your favorite examples that we might not have hit today of deaths of heroes, and we will tag Christopher in our tweet and you can share with all of us your favorite stories.
Christopher: I look forward to reading those.
Julia: Now the important part. Tell us about the things you make. Plus your stuff.
Christopher: Yeah, so I am the co-creator of Arden a rom-com workplace-com, well queer rom-com workplace-com set behind the scenes at a true crime show where each season is our take on a different Shakespeare play, and season two is going to be Hamlet's.
Julia: It did take me five episodes to realize that the first season was Romeo and Juliet and that's embarrassing to me still. I mean to be clear that's like half of all movies these days.
Julia: Fair. Also, season two being Hamlet I am so excited for.
Christopher: Yeah. No, it's going to be great like how season one was a serial type true crime prod, this season it's going to be like an S-Town up and vanished type-
Julia: But better than S-Town.
Christopher: We have a lot of opinions on S-Town and those are going to come through-
Christopher: ... in this season.
Amanda It sounds like Spirits bait if I ever heard it.
Julia: And then where can people find you specifically on the internet?
Christopher: Yeah, so you can find me specifically at @Crystal86 on Twitter. Then you can find Arden at @Ardenpod and ardenpodcast.com, and Tumblr and Instagram all of those.
Julia: Yeah, I want to reiterate how good the show is. It's funny and heart wrenching at the same time, and it is such a great twist on the true crime culture of podcasting, so highly recommend it please go check it out. It is a great, great show.
Christopher: Thank you. Thank you so much.
Amanda And Julia no matter what they tell you on all those true crime podcasts, the thing you have to remember is-
Julia: To stay creepy.
Amanda ... and stay cool.