The Podcast

The main SHWEP podcast is a roughly-chronological historical narrative: it starts way-back-when and moves forward from there. However, Episodes 0-4 are introductory materials. If you are a newcomer to the podcast, Episode Zero introduces the concept behind it. If you are a newcomer to the history of western esotericism, check out Episodes OneTwo and Three, which provide a lot of useful background. If you want to skip the intro and start exploring the nitty-gritty of the history of western esotericism, start with Episode Four and go from there.

If you want to explore further, be sure to check out the SHWEP Oddcast, which features interviews with specialists that have not yet been integrated into the main SHWEP chronology.

Free and members-only | Members-only | Title list

Members only: Mateusz Stróżyński on Augustine and Platonism

We are delighted to welcome Prof Stróżyński back to the podcast to deepen our understanding of Augustine's engagement with Platonist philosophy. The saint emerges as, in some ways, a model Plotinian thinker, in other ways something totally different from that, and, above all, as a philosophic thinker struggling with the reality of daily life in the collapsing western Roman empire.

Episode 180: Augustine of Hippo: Saint of the Exoteric

We discuss Augustine the anti-esotericist, who denies that Christianity has any esoteric dimensions. He employs the esoteric to do so. Can you trust a guy who does that?

Episode 179: The Manichæan Catholic: Augustine of Hippo

We turn to one of the most difficult, fascinating, and ultimately consequential thinkers of late antiquity, Augustine of Hippo. In this episode we discuss his relationship with Manichæism and Platonist philosophy, and a few of his important philosophical conclusions.

Members only: Stephen Cooper on Marius Victorinus, Philosophy, Panpsychism, and a Modern Religious Platonism

We keep the tape running and continue our discussion with Prof Cooper, asking him how Victorinus' thought might provide useful tools for thinking toward a philosophically-satisfying Christianity today. Things get psychedelic, philosophic, and Platonistic.

Episode 178: Stephen A. Cooper on Marius Victorinus and Latinate Christian Platonism

We discuss Marius Victorinus, a fascinating character from the tumultuous Roman scene in the mid fourth century who converted from Platonism to Platonism-plus-Christianity. His life and thought give us a valuable window onto the cultural scene in fourth-century Rome, as well, as some crucial data for the transmission of Platonist ideas into the Latinate middle ages.

Episode 177: Gretchen Reydams-Schils on Calcidius and the Timæus

We discuss the Latin translation and commentary of Calcidius with Gretchen Reydams-Schils. Who was Calcidius, where did he get his interpretations of what Plato meant, and, best of all, how did his anti-esotericist approach to Plato feed into western Christian esotericisms? We find out.

Episode 176: Plato Latinus

The podcast turns from the eastern Roman empire to its western reaches, now falling into strife and decline as we move into the fifth century. In this episode we look at languages, especially Latin and Greek, and discuss how their intelligibility declined in the respective halves of the now-sundered empire. And we discuss the fate of Plato and Platonism in western Europe as we move into a series of episodes discussing late-antique esotericism in Latin.

Members only: David Hernández de la Fuente on Nonnus of Panopolis

We are delighted to speak with David Hernández de la Fuente on Nonnus of Panopolis, one of the last great epic poets of the Græco-Roman tradition, and a man with a lot to tell us about the interplay between Christianity and ‘paganism’ in late antiquity. Come for the indeterminate religiosity, stay for the esoteric Orphic lore.

Members only: Storytime: Reading Synesius On Dreams

The On Dreams of Synesius of Cyrene is one of the finest pieces of esoteric writing to survive from antiquity. It preserves fragments of the Chaldæan Oracles, conveys fully fleshed-out theories of veridical imagination, dream-divination, and magic based on kosmic correspondence, and gives us other valuable details of antique occult lore. It is also self-consciously an esoteric piece of writing, and seems to be suggesting that it is a polytheist message-in-a-bottle to be read by future generations, once the dark times of Christian persecution have passed. So we read it.

Episode 175: Jay Bregman on Synesius of Cyrene

We dive into the fascinating life and thought of Synesius of Cyrene, Platonist philosopher and student of Hypatia of Alexandria, and Orthodox bishop of Ptolemaïs. Committed Christian or pagan bishop? We'll see ....

Episode 174: Noble Lies and Philosophic Silence: Hypatia, Synesius, and the New Esotericism in the Fourth Century

Fear, loathing, violence, and persecution. How does the philosopher operate under such circumstances? We look at the case-studies of Hypatia of Alexandria and her student Synesius of Cyrene, for some pointers.

Episode 173: Hypatia of Alexandria: The Life and Death of a Philosopher and her City

In Part I of a two-part-series centred around the great Hypatia of Alexandria, we introduce the life, and the notorious death, of the Late Platonist philosopher Hypatia, one of late antiquity's most evocative enigmas. Plus, a Christian mob didn't destroy the Great Library at Alexandria, but that doesn't mean there weren't some scabrous goings-on.

Episode 172: ‘And When Rome Falls, Falls the World’: The Fall of Rome and Western Esotericism

The sacking of Rome by Alaric and his Visigoths in the year 410 was an ideologically-charged event that left a permanent imprint on the culture of the west. We discuss two contemporary readings of what this event meant – one a polytheist and one a Christian – and, starting from these case-studies, a few of the crucial themes set in motion by the ‘Fall of Rome’ in the history of western esotericism.

Members only: Storytime: Reading Eunapius, Part III: The Diviners’ Purge and the End of the Theurgic Revolution

We explore the tragic dénouement of Julian's reign and the rôle played therein by Maximus of Ephesus. Along the way we see a transfer of power to the Valentinianic dynasty, a ferocious political purge of suspected magicians and diviners, and learn of Maximus' final fate. We also get two descriptions of ancient, private divination-practices in action, but only one of them is something to try at home!

Members only: Storytime: Reading Eunapius Part II, The Emperor and the Thaumaturge

As we near the end of our Julian and his Amazing Friends series, we dive back into the text of Eunapius of Sardis to excavate Maximus of Ephesus, the wonder-worker who became Julian's closest friend and advisor. What happens when the Roman empire is guided by the insights of a theurgist, his gods, and the stars? We find out in this episode.

Episode 171: ‘Visibly a Goddess’: Heidi Marx on Sosipatra of Pergamum

We discuss Sosipatra of Pergamum, an otherwise-unknown late polytheist holy woman and philosopher, depicted by her biographer Eunapius as a living goddess as well as a philosophic teacher in the lineage of Iamblichus. Come for the Late Platonist resistance to Christianity in the fourth century, stay for the mysterious Chaldæan strangers.

Episode 170: Frederico Fidler on Sallustius’ On the Gods and the World

We are delighted to speak with Frederico Fidler about Sallustius' On the Gods and the World, a short manual of a popular nature outlining how Platonist metaphysics work, how traditional Hellenistic religion is thought to mirror those metaphysical realities, and how esoteric hermeneutics are the key to unlocking the truth in the vast tradition of myth, ritual, and philosophy claimed by Julian, Sallustius, and other late-antique Hellenes. Come for the esoteric myths, stay for the kosmos as esoteric myth.

Episode 169: Strategies of the Esoteric in the Hellenism of the Emperor Julian: Exclusion and Pluralism in a Late-Antique Polytheism

We discuss the dynamics of Julian's esoteric religious/political formulation of Hellenism, and reflect on some of the very strange things that happen when esoteric religions like Iamblichean theurgy (and Christianity) are taken out of the small conclave and projected onto the corridors of power.

Episode 168: Jeremy Swist on Julian, Part II: The Emperor’s Religio-Philosophic Project

Our discussion with Jeremy Swist on The Emperor turns metaphysical, theurgic, and religious, as we discuss Julian's incredible synthesis of Iamblichean theology and metaphysics, traditional religions, and politics. Come for the pagan counter-church, stay for the transcendent solar metaphysics.

Episode 167: Jeremy Swist on the Emperor Julian, Part I: the Political Background and Political Project of the Emperor

Jeremy Swist, specialist on Late Platonism, late antiquity, and the great Julian the Faithful, lays out the political background and political project of The Emperor. Part I of a two-part discussion of late antiquity's greatest statesman. No bias here.

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