Secret Clubs and Societies. 1 of 4. Deadpool, Boba Fet, James Bond, Jason Bourne, Winter Soldier and Kill Bill... from the Assassin's Creed video game to the John Wick series, professional assassins are vilified and valorized in equal measure. Why do some assassins earn our admiration, even affection, while others remain defamed and deviant in the popular imagination? This episode tells the story of the Hashshashin, as one Ismaili Shia sect became known when word of their purported use of hashish and opium circulated around the Mediterranean. Etymologists tell us that the work "assassin" is derived from "Hashshashin" because the group became so universally defamed for their targeted killings that their name became synonymous with political murder. This episode will sort through the most enduring legends of the Hashshashin, establish their accuracy, and demonstrate how the sensationalized stories of one medieval Ismaili sect shaped the "Western" consciousness forever.
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