“All they did was win, win, win, no matter what,” says Arthur Tenenbaum, head of historical studies at the University Of Yale, and founder of the popular blog WTF Rome. “They had gold, silver, bronze on their mind, they could never get enough. Every time they stepped in the tribunal the hands went up. And they’d stay there. And they’d say ‘hail.'” Tenenbaum maintains a straight face through all of this, though the cadence of his speech indicates he is not unaware of T-Pain and DJ Khaled.
“But this was already known,” he continues, straightening his school tie. “The excesses of ancient Rome, their increasing fascination with bloodsports, unpredictable acts of international aggression, and vociferous fighting over a growing gap between the wealthy and poor, are all well documented. What this newly discovered document, which we are calling the Tweetstorm scroll, brings to light, is a speech given by a particularly odd character who appears just before the fall of the empire.”
Here Prof. Tenenbaum puts on a pair of glasses, clears his throat twice, and prepares to read from a copy of the document he has in front of him.
“This bankrupt merchant, who previously has only appeared in Roman theatres as a figure who mocked people who actually work for a living, often wearing a live lion cub on his head in a traditional show of forced virility, addresses a crowd of Romans, dissatisfied at living in the greatest empire the world has ever seen. And, after much haranguing, and questioning the birthplace of the current emperor, he says this: If I am elected Consul, we are going to win so much. You’re going to get tired of winning. You’re going to say, ‘Please Mr. Consul, I have a headache. Please don’t win so much. This is terrible.'”
The Professor pauses here, and takes his glasses off before speaking. “Isn’t that something? Isn’t that sad? In a way he was right, this merchant. That part about Romans being secretly tired of winning anyway. But he was wrong about the timeline. This malaise brought on from supposedly having it all, wouldn’t come after his election. It came before, and – fittingly – a significant portion of the electorate of Rome were already looking, subconsciously, to a failed businessman to stop with all that tiresome ‘winning.'” Tenenbaum excuses himself then, saying there was still much analysis left to be done on the ancient script.
“It’s a labour of love,” he says, sighing as he enters his third straight sleepless day of pouring over the document, “When you’re going in you have to just put your hands in the air. And make them stay there. And make them stay there.”
Painting: Domenichino, Funeral For A Roman Emperor