You won’t believe ’em until you Colosseum.
In the past week, in oodles of videos and social media posts online, women have been asking men how often they think about the Roman Empire.
And to those women’s utter befuddlement, many men have responded that they think about it pretty often — some on a daily basis.
I saw an IG Reel that said something along the lines of “women have no idea how often the men in their lives think about the Roman Empire.”
So I asked my husband: “How often do you think about the Roman Empire?”
And without missing a beat he said “Every day.”
— Rev. Kelsey Lewis Vincent (@KelseyMLoo) September 6, 2023
According to The Washington Post, the trend originally started on Instagram when Artur Hulu — a Roman reenactor and history influencer from Sweden who goes by the handle Gaius Flavius — published a video seen by his 100,000 followers with text that read:
“Ladies, many of you do not [realize] how often men think about the Roman Empire.”
From there, women began asking the men in their lives the question and shared the bewildering results on social media.
Even celebrities have participated in the trend. Former “Bachelorette” star Hannah Brown asked her fiancé Adam Woolard to answer the viral question, to which he responded that he thinks about it “pretty consistently.”
Carson Daly also admitted on “Today” that he thinks of the Roman Empire “every day,” much to his co-hosts’ surprise.
How often do you think about the Roman Empire? Our TODAY family is weighing in on the TikTok debate — and they all have very different opinions 😂 pic.twitter.com/RcA7Cp0dUt
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) September 15, 2023
“First of all, the movie ‘Gladiator’ is in every guy’s top five favorite movies,” Daly explained. “Like, Joe Rogan’s podcast is wildly popular, and there’s this trend to have this modern understanding of sort of ancient philosophies like stoicism; cold plunging is a big thing right now, keto. Looking for guidance and self-improvement, and it all harkens back to [Roman emperor] Marcus Aurelius.”
But Daly can’t necessarily speak on behalf of every man. “I haven’t thought about it since I took Latin,” co-host Al Roker cracked.
When co-host Craig Melvin expressed confusion that a subset of men on social media seemed to think about the Roman Empire often and unprovoked, Daly responded with:
“I think it’s become part of ... the new young man psyche.”
Experts who have discussed the social media trend have mixed takes on whether frequent thoughts about the Roman Empire can be linked to regressive male behavior.
“Ancient Rome was of course patriarchal and violent,” Lewis Webb, a historian of ancient Rome at Oxford University, told The Washington Post in an email. “But it was also a diverse place: there were numerous forms of masculinity, women could have agency and power, and there were multiple gender expressions and identities, as well as various sexualities.”
Still, Rolling Stone asked Mike Duncan — the host of the popular podcast “The History of Rome” and author of The New York Times bestseller “The Storm Before the Storm: The Beginning of the End of the Roman Republic” — if he believed men thought about the Roman Empire because it was a “time where men could really be men.”
Duncan said that some men may feel that way.
“I think that’s probably true, to some extent,” Duncan told the magazine. “And I certainly feel like there are people in my own fan base who listen to my shows and read my books and are in that right-wing and anti-woke-adjacent crowd … So they retreat to what they think of as the ancient world, and it’s a complete Fantasyland.”
But Duncan said that he knows “many, many more Roman history fans where it’s not about that stuff at all,” pointing out that “the laws, the politics, the structures, all of these things that informed Roman society now presently inform our own society.”
Duncan also told Rolling Stone that he knows many women who “really love the Roman Empire and think about the Roman Empire” as well, though he did opine that interest in the topic does “skew male.”
Although there isn’t a trend of men asking women how much they think about the Roman Empire, Romper did write a satirical post that speculated about what women think about as frequently, which included Princess Diana, serial killers and “That house we saw on Zillow.”
HuffPost would like to add to Romper’s list by saying that women also think a lot about not getting sexually or physically assaulted, bodily autonomy, inadequate health care, lower pay, weaponized incompetence and, uh, how we’d like more dresses with pockets. But again, HuffPost, much like Daly, can’t really speak for every woman.