Have you been thinking about the Roman Empire lately? If your answer is not “yes, every day,” it’s time you get on board this equal-parts-random, equal-parts-fascinating trend. Rooted in the stories of the empire founded around 27 BC, and regaining traction on the internet throughout September 2023, the Roman Empire has sparked a huge online debate in recent weeks. In our discussion today, the Lifestyle Asia team shares its thoughts — many of which are, in fact, loosely related to the Roman Empire.
Whilst the origins of the Roman Empire trend vary according to the source, the premise is pretty simple. A woman asks a man, “how often do you think about the Roman Empire?” And more often than not, the man will say, “every day,” “every week,” or “several times a month.” On TikTok and Instagram especially, the trend went viral when Roman reenactor ‘Gaius Flavius’ posted a video urging followers to ask the men in their lives about how often they think about the Roman Empire. “You will be surprised by their answers,” he wrote, and surprised we were. Apparently, men think about the Roman Empire a lot.
[Hero and Featured Image Credit: Adrianna Geo/Unsplash]
At the time of writing, #RomanEmpire has over 1.3 billion views on TikTok, and a casual Google search will prompt a slew of respectable news outlets trying to decipher and make sense of this trend. Even famous figures have taken part, be it Ryan Reynolds posting a selfie with the caption “jus’ thinkin’ ‘bout the Roman Empire,” or Mark Zuckerberg jokingly thread-ing about how he named his children after the great Romans.
Whilst it is fun and games for many, it is serious history to most. Historians have been quick and kind to explain that the fascination with the Roman Empire is easy to understand, given that they influenced modern civilisation quite heavily. The Romans gave us roads, sanitation, education, wine! How could you not think about them every time you’re stuck in traffic, on the toilet, reading a newspaper, or at happy hour (hopefully not all at once)?
The remnants of the Roman Empire are all around us, be they physical ruins, political systems, or re-runs of Russell Crowe in Gladiator. No matter what you think about most of the time, apparently, in some way, it can be linked to the Roman Empire. Interestingly, trying to find the root cause of this Roman-Empire-thinking is only pushing the trend to grow even more. According to The Guardian, just asking men why they think about the Roman Empire so much “can unleash a torrent of ‘Romansplaining’ from men eager to justify their interest.”
Whilst the discussion around the Roman Empire trend and fragile masculinity is one we will have to dissect another day, the team at Lifestyle Asia sees a fair divide of genders, and thereby a fair focus group. Gathering in our office amphitheatre, we got together to discuss: how often do we really think about the Roman Empire? When, where, and why?
LSA Opinion: How often do you think about the Roman Empire?
I asked my boyfriend how often he thinks about the Roman Empire, and he said “once every three months.” Now I can’t stop thinking about how my boyfriend thinks about the Roman Empire exactly once every three months.
—LG, Creative Content Director
Well, they’re a prominent part of the New Testament in the Bible, so as a Christian, I guess I think about them quite regularly considering Nero killed Christians and they crucified Jesus Christ. Not exactly sure that was what the trend was going for when they’re asking about “thinking of the Roman Empire” though.
—ES, Senior Writer
—TC, Content Writer
Difficult to say. Probably once a trimester, or every time I see a pillar, but certainly not when I see Bangkok’s nonfunctional sewage system.
—PC, Content Writer
As a person who rarely goes on TikTok, this Roman Empire trend is quite elusive to me, like why would anyone think about the civilisation that ended centuries ago all the time? I went around asking people I know, and they are all baffled at the idea. Perhaps the trend is quite Western-centric? Who knows.
—PL, Features Editor
I think about it every day. Why should Caesar just get to stomp around like a giant while the rest of us try not to get smushed under his big feet? Brutus is just as cute as Caesar, right? Brutus is just as smart as Caesar, people totally like Brutus just as much as they like Caesar, and when did it become okay for one person to be the boss of everybody because that’s not what Rome is about. We should totally just STAB CAESAR.
—KV, Content Writer