The Roman Empire dates back to 27 B.C.E. It’s known for the brutal sports that took place in the Colosseum, Roman dictator Julius Caesar and, of course, its demise.
Obviously, this all took place centuries ago, so imagine my surprise as I was scrolling through TikTok one day and watched as one user posed a question to men on the app: “How often do you think about the Roman Empire?”
I thought it was an interesting question, but even more interesting was how often guys admitted to frequently thinking about this historical civilization.
The TikTok trend originated on Instagram from Swedish influencer Saskia Cort, who told her followers to ask their male partners the question in 2022. In August 2023, Gaius Flavius, a “Swedish Rome reenactor” on TikTok and Instagram, posted the same question. The trend took off from there.
Oddly enough, when I asked my boyfriend the same question, he told me he ponders the Spartans more than Rome.
Before it went viral, I couldn’t recall the last time I thought about the Roman Empire. But I do contemplate the English monarchy regularly.
I decided I would go around campus and ask men about their thoughts on the trend and, most importantly, how often they think about the Roman Empire.
Gabriel León, a freshman Spanish and history double major, thinks about the Roman Empire every day and doesn’t find mens’ focus on it strange.
“It’s a big part of what I study, and I think aspects of how they lived are still present in how we live,” León said. “They have so many great leaders and great philosophers, too.”
Nathan Urbaez, a sophomore psychology major, only started thinking about the Roman Empire after seeing the trend on TikTok.
“Before, I didn’t think about it at all, but it’s kind of been on my mind recently,” Urbaez said. “Now? Probably like, once a week, just whenever I see it, though.”
Junior journalism major Ben Voelker now thinks about the Roman Empire frequently because of the trend. Voelker’s Roku has even suggested historical documentaries about the empire to him since the trend became popular, he said.
“I see it everywhere,” said Voelker. “I don’t know how much I thought about it before this trend started, but it was a cool time. I didn’t think that so many guys were so interested in European history and stuff like that.”
Junior anthropology and philosophy major Dimitri Cerny added that he thinks about the Roman Empire “occasionally,” or about three times per week. A podcast he listens to discusses the empire sometimes, he said.
Another student I spoke to said they didn’t often think about the Roman Empire, or really at all, but he wasn’t surprised that many men do.
“I think it’s an interesting time. It’s probably an interesting thing to think about, but I don’t really think about it,” said Rohan Wadhwa, a freshman enrolled in letters and sciences.
After walking around campus and interviewing students, I have come to the personal conclusion that four out of every five male students at this university think about the Roman Empire.
Perhaps the reason the Roman Empire is attractive to some people is because of how it has influenced today’s society. Though it existed centuries ago, certain sports stadiums, aqueducts, William Shakespeare’s “Julias Caesar” and now a TikTok trend can be traced back to this historical sensation.
“[The Roman Empire] was just really cool. They’re kind of like us, but they’re just so far in the past,” Cerny said. “I just find it interesting.”
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story’s subheading misstated the number of people interviewed. This story has been updated.