Inspired by McSweeney’s “Math Problems for English Majors”, I’ve decided to make a list of math problems for history majors:
1. If the Roman Empire splits into East and West, and there are four emperors, and Emperor Diocletian makes some administrative changes in the Eastern Roman Empire resulting in 12 dioceses and increases the number of provinces from about fifty to one hundred, how many scholars are going to first draw this out in chart form so they can understand it?
2. If Nestorius brings two prosopa and one physis (for which he sometimes substitutes ousia) to Ephesus, and Cyril brings one hypostasis and one physis, and Leo sends a delegate with one persona and two naturae, how many glasses of lacryma Christi (pun intended) will you need to drink?
3. If Latin has 5 declensions, 4 conjugations, verbs that look like they are written in the passive but are actually translated in the present just to trip you up and make you feel stupid, and, to top it off, isn’t really fond of articles, while Ancient Greek dialects have 3 declensions, a verb tense called the aorist that you always think of as aortic, 3 voices including something between passive and active, as if that is actually possible, an almost perverse love of the conjunction καί, but, on the other hand, does actually use articles, how many hours will you spend crying in your therapist’s office as you wonder why you made such horrible life choices?
4. What is the difference of one iota?