Ukip donor Arron Banks has taken the bold step of challenging Cambridge University classicist Mary Beard on her knowledge of Roman history, citing his schoolboy studies and Russell Crowe Hollywood epic Gladiator as his sources.
Beard - a professor of classics and a fellow of Newnham College since 1984 who has produced multiple series on Rome for the BBC - is one of Britain’s best-known scholars.
The university don clearly felt she had to intervene on Twitter when Banks - the multi-millionaire diamond mine-owning insurance tycoon who has bankrolled Ukip and played a key role in Brexit - started to link the fall of the Roman Empire with troubles affecting the European Union.
It started with this pithy summary of his position.
Beard, whose last series was Ultimate Rome: Empire Without Limit, suggested Banks may not have a complete grasp of the subject.
It didn’t take long for the mansplaining to begin, served with a roll of the eyes.
Beard suggested, again, history might be a little more complicated than that.
Rather than defer to a respected historian’s perspective, the businessman doubled down.
“You don’t have a monopoly on history.”
A point of view, for sure, but Beard’s riposte was cat-nip to any self-respecting Brexiteer.
”People are sick of experts,” is what fellow Leave campaigner Michael Gove argued, and it still sticks in the throat when an expert - often quite literally - lectures us, at least among some.
Bit between his teeth, Banks fleshed out his thesis in a further tweet.
That may have been too rich for Beard’s stomach.
Then we got a glimpse of the source of his insight.
This piqued Beard’s curiosity.
Banks was happy to oblige.
Beard indulged Banks to some extent.
So Banks pulled out the big guns.
As more gathered round to witness the conversation, Banks disclosed some more citations.
Twitter, naturally, loved it - drawing parallels with David Brent looking up Dostoevsky, Monty Python’s The Life of Brian and Frankie Howard in Up Pompeii!.
J.K Rowling was enjoying the spectacle.