Angus Trumble’s 1 In Retrospect


“In Han China, the 9-year-old Ping (9 B.C.E.–5 C.E.) succeeded his cousin, the childless homosexual ‘sleeve lifter’ Ai (27 B.C.E.–1 B.C.E /1 C.E.), as emperor, largely at the behest of that remarkable old survivor the Grand Empress Dowager Wang Zhengjun (69 B.C.E.–13 C.E.), who appears to have spent much of her life both orchestrating and surviving the reigns of her husband the Emperor Yuan (75–33 B.C.E.), her son the Emperor Cheng (51–7 B.C.E.), and her two step-grandsons, Ai and Ping....”

Esopus’s resident chronologist Angus Trumble goes back to the beginning of the modern calendar, where history is already in full swing—ruling Roman and Chinese dynasties are rife with feuds, exiles, and murders, and, of course, Jesus is born—or was that in 6 BC?

Angus Trumble (1964–2022) was the director of the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra, Australia. He was also a senior research fellow at the National Museum of Australia, as well as a curator at the Yale Center for British Art and the Art Gallery of South Australia. Trumble wrote several books, including A Brief History of the Smile (Basic Books, 2004) and The Finger: A Handbook (Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2010). In 2015, he was named a fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. In 2022, he was made an honorary fellow of his alma mater, Trinity College, Melbourne.