At the beginning of November Penny Wilson visited the Essex Egyptology Group to talk to us about myths & legends of the Delta region of Egypt. Wilson is involved in archaeological work in the Delta, and is currently writing a book about the region as there isn't one already. One of her areas of interest is whether there is a distinct Delta culture during the Ancient Egyptian period.
Aesop's Fables are so deeply embedded into our culture that references to them are common parts of the language - "sour grapes", "crying wolf" and so on. But we don't often think about who Aesop was, where these stories originated or what the point of them is - or at least, I certainly didn't! Discussing Aesop and the fables attributed to him on In Our Time were Pavlos Avlamis (Trinity College, University of Oxford), Simon Goldhill (University of Cambridge), and Lucy Grig (University of Edinburgh).
Prester John was the greatest Christian King who never lived. All through the Middle Ages there were persistent legends (sometimes backed up by apparent documentation) about this powerful priest-king in the East who was ready to bring his powerful armies to attack the Muslims in concert with the Western Crusaders.
I'm not quite sure what I was expecting from Ian Hislop's Olden Days but it wasn't what we actually got! What we got was an interesting (and entertaining) look at how the British think about their history. The first episode of the series looked at two different Kingship myths - Arthur and Alfred. Obviously Alfred has the advantage of being real, but the best known story about him (burning the cakes) is about as truthful as the Arthur mythos.