And The Saga Continues.. With William Ian Miller

And The Saga Continues.. With William Ian Miller


When reading history, we often miss the little things that makes us all human. Today, William Ian Miller from the University of Michigan joins us to speak to us about the ancient Icelandic Sagas and how it relates to us, today! We learn about traditions we kept and the knowledge we lost.

The Highlight Reel

Ye Old

Originally, the sound th was represented with the rune symbol thorn þ. Over the years, people started writing it more carelessly and then started opening it up until it resembled y.

Ye Old Tavern is pronounced = The Old Tavern.

Ancient Rome and the Middle Finger

In Latin, the word for the middle finger is digitus impudicus. It means “unchaste finger” and it was offensive back then too! I will leave it to the reader to decide why it was called “unchaste” finger and the actions people may have performed on themselves or others using this finger.

The Dating App for Incest

In the olden times, people in Iceland kept records going back 500-600 years to see who they were related to. Nowadays, there is a dating app that stops related people from hooking up!

Ancient Graffiti

Architecture in the classical times is filled with graffiti.

Babylonian Yelp

It was written in 1753 BC in Babylon. A dude named Nanni complains to a Ea-Nasir about his customer service. Nanni ordered copper from Ea-Nasir and apparently the copper was low quality.

We hope this episode helps you realize that history isn’t just studying about old times that are inapplicable to modern society. Instead, we can see what is timeless, and maybe it will even give us a glimpse of what it means to be human!

If you haven’t already, please listen to our previous episode with Professor William Ian Miller where he talks about the anarchist tradition of old Iceland.

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