[cf. Gabler 21: 36-48; 1922 24:28 – 25:7]
Clearly, Stephen’s questions about history reflect his mental negotiations with his own past, present, and future. Throughout much of the chapter, Stephen ponders alternate possibilities of history, the what-ifs of western culture. Here’s one question: what would have happened if Julius Caesar (whom Rob depicts here—or is that Stephen in a toga, or both?) had survived his assassination attempt?
Shaking off his students’ requests for a story, and his fears about the nightmares of history, Stephen turns the page, moving on to poetry. Note that the boys are supposed to be able to recite the poem from memory, but the narrator alerts us that Talbot is cheating, looking at his book, which is hidden (poorly) behind the “breastwork” of his satchel. Fittingly, Rob draws Stephen literally looking the other way.