You may recall an unusual event that occurred back in 10 A.D. That was the year of the consulship of Dolabella and Silanus, or 763 ab urbe condita, for those of you unwilling to admit the Roman Empire's demise. Of course, the Empire wasn't dead back then. It was doing quite well, if memory serves correctly. As I mentioned, Publius Cornelius Dolabella was Roman consul (a surprising fact for those of us who knew 'Pubes' in high school), though if you ask me, his co-consul, Gaius Junius Silanus did all the work. Dolabella simply ordered somebody else to build an arch that Nero would eventually use to support an aqueduct. There is a funny story behind that, though. In our senior year, Pubes was voted "most likely to build an arch" while Nero, during his senior year, was voted "most likely to use Dolabella's arch to support an aqueduct." One could argue that Nero's was a self-fulfilling prophecy. Regardless, "most likely to burn Rome to the ground" seems more fitting in hindsight.
Where was I? Right. So you may recall an odd incident that occurred in 10 Anno Domini. It actually had nothing to do with either Roman consul or the passing into law of the Senatus consultum Silanianum. It certainly had nothing to do with Nero, who wouldn't be born for another twenty-seven years. It may have had something to do with the division of Illyria into Pannonia and Dalmatia but I can't be sure (my understanding of cosmic string theory being virtually non-existent). Some have argued that the strange occurrence indirectly brought an end to the Greek dynasty in Bactria, but the evidence upon which their case was made remains mildly circumstantial. In fact, a better case has been made for its influence on Liu Xiu. You'll recall that it was Xiu's illegal private purchase of crossbows that so irked Wang Mang. Personally, I disagree with all those who link these worldly events to both the odd event and that particular (and particularly striking) issue of Esse et fiery. It's simply human nature to look upon the face of coincidence and see causality.
As to the unusual event that occurred back in 10 I can only say that it may, or may not, have had a rippling effect on the wider world. The event of which I write and you now read was, of course - but wait! Perhaps I should touch on its unlikely origins. The roots of this creeping vine were firmly planted in the heart and home of publisher Rachellius Kendallus who, you will recall, published Lucretius long before popularity devoured the last meager scraps of his humble nature (and, I might add, years after his death). It would not be a stretch to say that the foundation of De rerum natura can be read in Esse et fiery, the journal founded by Rachellius ten years earlier (yet still years after it was first published. Don't ask me to explain these temporal irregularities. The finer points of space and time continue to elude me. I write absurd stories, not scholarly papers on temporal mechanics! If understanding is what you want, go read Stephen Hawking, and good luck to you!)
The unusual event originated, in fact, within the pages of Rachellius' Esse et fiery. Its source was the final work of Sextus Propertius, a stirring love poem dedicated (as was his first work Monobiblos) to the mysterious Cynthia. Who among us cannot relate to that famous first line?
Cynthia prima suis miserm me cepit ocellis(1)
Many have asked, perhaps with good cause, how word and event can possibly co-exist on the pages of a small literary journal in 10 A.D. I do not pretend to know. As an Absurdist I am quite certain there is no reason for it. As the writer of this ill-plotted tale I am more than certain reason had nothing at all to do with it - but love and lack of reason often go hand-in-hand. With that in mind the true identity of the Cynthia that so infatuated the poet Propertius becomes ever more obvious. Shy yet fiercely loyal, famed for the sad-eyed gloominess of her pale and deathly visage, she was Cynthia, Goddess of the Moon. She haunted our poet all the years of his life, yet remained oblivious to his affection until she (being a fan of and frequent contributor to Esse et fiery, read the poem Peribat amor in the journal's tenth anniversary edition. She first read the poet's touching words before bed, and became both enamoured and disheartened to the point of distraction. In failing to fall from night's lofty height she cast, albeit briefly, a shadow across the sun that bathed our superstitious world in dusky darkness. It was this strange event that, according to some, inspired Dolabella's arch, ushered in the Senatus consultum Silanianum, had something to do with the division of Illyria into Pannonia and Dalmatia(2), and brought an end to the Greek Dynasty in Bactria(3).
I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "What about Liu Xiu? What about the crossbows? What about Wang Mang? How do they fit into this pointless tale of yours?" While I consider it obvious, I will now explain it for Paulo Brito's benefit. As previously mentioned, it was Xiu's purchase of crossbows that angered Wang Mang. As it turns out, Mang's anger was misplaced. True, Mang had criminalized the purchase of crossbows fearing attempted rebellion against his less-than-stellar rule, but rebellion was the last thing on Xiu's mind. Xiu, you see, was also in love with Cynthia (don't begrudge the moon goddess her beauty!) and shared similar views on love with loveless Sextus Propertius who, you ought to remember, placed Cupid's arrows before Rome's majesty. Xiu purchased the crossbows not, as it turned out, in order to usurp Mang's rule. He bought them for Cupid, so that the cherub-faced fellow might be well-armed against Cynthia's reluctance(4). In the end it was Cupid's ill-aimed arrow that struck Cynthia in the throat, rather than the heart, dropping her from the heavens like a dead quail.
I know what you're thinking now. You're thinking, "What is your point, Rolfe?" and/or "I should have known better than to read this. I probably should have stopped after he referred to Publius Cornelius Dolabella as 'Pubes'". Alternatively you might be wondering how you can get the past three minutes of your life back. As I've already stated, I am not an expert on temporal mechanics, but thoroughly invite you to leave my story at once so that you may pursue your apparent interest in physics. As for my point, I am an Absurdist so I really don't have one. That being said, I invite any and all interpretations of this text. My own would be that the number 10 plays an important role in this particular issue of Sein und Werden and given the events unleashed by unrequited love back in 10 A.D. I felt it worth reminding everyone that it was dear Sextus who championed the poet's exaltation of man's amorous servitude - and that it was Rachellius Kendallus whose love of literature championed ten years of Esse et fiery(5).
(1) Cynthia was the first to capture with her eyes my pitiable self.
(2) It should be noted that Pannonia too felt an infatuation for Cynthia, while Dalmatia preferred the sun and white dogs with black spots.
(3) It is a little-known fact that the last Greco-Bactrian king, Heliocles, suffered from severe night blindness and, during the eclipse, could neither read nor sign his kingly renewal papers, thus ending Greek rule in Bactria forever, if we are to believe the argument posed by noted Helioclesian scholars Mark Andresen, PhD (Cambridge), and John Shire, PhD (Oxford) in their joint book, In The Dark: The Repercussions of Missed Fine Print and the Role of Night-Blindness in the Fall of the Greco-Bactrian Dynasty, and their less successful attempt at popular history, What the Heliocles?
(4) In her recent translation of Xiu's diary, celebrity chef and arguably the world's leading expert on Chinese history, Professor Andrea Rolfe-Dittmer clearly noted that Cynthia rebuffed Xiu's unwelcome advances using the dreaded "You're like a brother to me" defence.
(5) Being and becoming.