When I first read this section I was slightly alarmed by the massive amount of detailed historical references - how was I to make sense of something that extensively references events I am not even remotely familiar with? What is important to know here is that the specifics of the occurrences mentioned are not what is of significant - rather it is the emphasis of the fact that all of these obscure events have culminated into what is conveyed as the present in the story, as the present, which is key here. Were the trials and tribulations of the Ipe family pre-decided thousands of years ago when these now rather obscure decisions were made? Is fate or a 'bigger plan' to blame for their misfortune, or is it just Sophie mol? These are the questions that Roy wants to instill in you from this passage.