After "Robot Of Sherwood" aired, my friend Tay Mueller had this to say on Facebook:
"It just seemed wrong to me when Clara didn't pick Marcus Aurellius..."
I agree. After all, Clara had this to say about the Roman emperor in a conversation with Madame Vastra:
Clara: Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor. Last one of the five good emperors and stoic philosopher.
Madame Vastra: Superlative bass guitarist. The Doctor really knows how to put a band together.
Clara: And the only pin-up I ever had on my wall when I was fifteen. The only one I ever had.
So if she was that gaga over the emperor, why didn't she choose him to visit when she got the chance?
Here's another question: Why was she so over the moon for Marcus?
She was fifteen. A teenager probably given to deep thoughts during moody withdrawals from life around her. Probably a time when her mother had only recently passed away, perhaps.
And Clara knew the history of her mother and her fateful first encounter with the man who would become Clara's father - it all came down to a leaf, the "most important leaf in human history"......
From the TARDIS Data Core:
A large red ovate leaf, later dubbed "the most important leaf in human history", caused the meeting of Dave Oswald and Ellie Ravenwood. On a windy day in 1981, this leaf fell from its tree and flew into Dave's face. This lead him to almost get hit by a car, before being saved by Ellie. After they began dating, and then got married, he kept the leaf, a symbol of their love.
Ellie would later put the leaf in the first page of her book, 101 Places to See, which she later passed on to her daughter, Clara Oswald.
Clara, who eventually became a companion of the Eleventh Doctor, used that leaf to feed Akhaten, a planet-like entity that fed off peoples' souls, and therefore stories. The leaf represented the history of the family, and well as potential futures. The infinite amount of stories in that one leaf bloated Akhaten, and he imploded. The leaf was destroyed in the process. (TV: The Rings of Akhaten)
The Doctor returned the leaf to Clara after she entered his time stream; the leaf helped them to come back into the world. (TV: The Name of the Doctor)
So perhaps while doing the research for what she may have thought was an interminable subject, she happened upon this line from one of the emperor's poems:
the wind scatters some on the face of the ground;
like unto them are the children of men.
– Iliad 6.146
Feeling the connection to her own family history, Clara may have then seen Marcus Aurelius in a new light. And she may have gone on to read more of his writings in "Meditations", which would have led to this guiding principle in Life:
'Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.'
So yes, "Robots Of Sherwood" was a fun romp although a Zonk to the greater Toobworld Dynamic as is. (More on that later.) But they should have dropped that fan-girl attitude on Clara's part about Robin Hood. Instead that should have been saved for her chance to finally meet Marcus Aurelius.
It's too late now unless Clara is brought back for a special reunion with the Doctor someday, but I'm sure there are plenty of points in the emperor's life where there would be good cause for intervention by the Doctor.
Well, if not in Toobworld, perhaps the tale will be told one day in the fictional universe of BookWorld......