Historians who just happened to be searching the historic record for ways to avoid the implosion of a large civilization that everyone thought was too big to fail(for no particular reason why do you ask?) have come across shocking evidence that Emperor Nero was not just fiddling while Rome burned. He was fiddling with his phone.
“While of course the Romans didn’t have smartphones as we know them today,” says Professor Reese Zistance, head of Yale’s newly unveiled School of Studying History In An Attempt To Understand How The Fuck We Ended Up With Donald Trump. “We’ve unearthed new evidence that many of the ancients may have had more rudimentary communication devices such as Nokias, Blackberrys, or Motorolas.”
Emperor Nero in particular seems to have been obsessed with communicating over these devices, and was especially fond of an early social media platform the Romans used, one they called Ultro Tribulation (loosely translates as ‘unsolicited trouble’). And the professor and his team believe this may have been what Nero was fiddling with when his city burned.
“A series of scrolls have been discovered which have inscribed on them a number of Nero’s Tribuleets, the slang term Romans used for the brief, but potentially extremely destructive messages, he would send over this rudimentary social media platform. And let me tell you, the man had a little bit of a problem.”
Professor Zistance runs through a section of tweets (sorry Tribuleets) that Trump (er Nero) is said to have sent as the US (Rome, jeez, I wish my backspace button wasn’t stuck) stood on the brink of war (burnt, burnt, burnt). Bizarrely, the missives fixated on a local news cryer that he didn’t like, and Muslims (shit, sorry, I meant Christians, who were obviously the persecuted people at that particular juncture in our history of being a horrible species).
“Here you can see him sharing a story he’d heard in Fox Mews, his favourite bathhouse, purporting that Christians are actually made of wood and have no feelings and eat jobs. Tacitus, a senator, and historian of the time, retweeted this the evening Rome began to burn. You’d have thought that Nero would have had bigger wheat pancakes to fry, but apparently this fire played right into his hands, distracting an angry republic from allegations that he was an incompetent fraud, and dangerous narcissist who would rather see an empire fall than admit he was wrong.”
The professor looks up from his translation. He slowly raises his glasses onto his forehead, stares intently across a well-papered desk, and asks – flatly, hollowly, and without a trace of inflection:
“And isn’t that just the craziest damn thing you’ve ever heard?”