Are men obsessed with the Roman Empire? Yes, say the men. | ET REALITY


The Roman Empire began in 27 BC and fell in 476 AD

And in 2023 AD, it went viral on TikTok.

In posts shared on social media, women have asked the men in their lives how often they think about ancient Rome. “Constantly” responded a husband. “Like every day,”said a boyfriend. On Thursday night, a thread on X, formerly known as Twitter, continued like this for MDCLXXIX messages. (Sorry, it’s 1,679).

The posts have sparked skepticism about whether men are truly obsessed with the Romans and, if so, what draws them to the ancient empire. It seems that the populus will not rest without answers.

“I’m starting to get tired of being asked about this,” said Kevin Feeney, a New York University faculty member who teaches an introductory Roman history class. By his estimates, enrollment is approximately 60 percent male.

Ancient Roman society was “extremely patriarchal,” he said, and was dominated by alpha males like Julius Caesar and Augustus, its first emperor.

But that is far from the whole story of Rome or its scholars, he added. Roman society influences everything from the United States’ form of government to its language to its architecture (even the prefix “arch,” which, coincidentally, is also a structure popularized by the Romans).

Her story has been analyzed by scholars including Mary Beard, author of the 2015 book “SPQR.” Ms. Beard declined to comment because she was not filming. In Rome.

Dr Feeney said he had “seen the idea that men care more about history” as a result of the social media trend. “And obviously, that’s complete nonsense.”

Still, many women have been surprised by the enthusiasm men show for the ancient empire.

The trend seemed to really take off last week after Kelsey Lewis Vincent of Wilson, North Carolina, was browsing social media one night when she came across an Instagram Reel that mysteriously suggested that men around the world were hiding a secret : “Ladies, many of you don’t realize how often men think about the Roman Empire.”

Ms. Vincent asked her husband, Remy, how often ancient civilization crossed his mind, and he shared his response in a mail which has already been viewed millions of times: “Without missing a beat he said ‘Every day’.”

Asked in an interview what “every day” meant, in practice, Mr. Vincent, 33, said: “I will be reviewing my day and my internal monologue, as I drive down the highway, will remind me that this “It was something that the Romans somehow created.” He continued: “Then I start to wonder what daily life was like back then.”

Delara Alviri, 28, an entertainment lawyer in Los Angeles, found further ambivalence when she surveyed 10 of her male friends about Rome this week. Five of them were really interested, but the other five were relatively unmoved. One said she only thought about ancient Rome when she ordered pizza at Little Caesars.

Alviri said the trope reminded her of “girls dinner,” another online phenomenon that declared something that was not obviously gender-related (in that case, a plate of snacks) to be an exclusively gendered experience. “I feel like it has to do with a lot of the current questioning of gender roles and norms in general,” she said.

Judith Hallett, professor emeritus of classics at the University of Maryland, described ancient Rome as “a place where there were many different definitions of masculinity.”

But after first being exposed to civilization in middle and high school, Dr. Hallett added, many men continue to consume Roman history through the media.

In recent popular culture, Roman history has been told through entertainment media such as “Gladiator,” which won the Oscar for best picture in 2000, and the television show “Spartacus,” which focuses on battles and often attracts to the male audience. “The games you play and the TV shows you watch inform a new audience of Roman fans,” he said.

Others have argued that ancient Rome is intriguing to Americans because the country faces a similar decline today.

That kind of status anxiety is not unique to the United States, or even to the 21st century, said Dr. Feeney of New York University. In fact, The New York Times published articles comparing the state of the United States to the decline of Rome in 1975, 1999, 2007, 2018, 2021, and just this month.

Still, it’s not that ancient Rome is all what men talk about, Vincent said.

“We’re not necessarily opening beers talking about the Roman Empire,” he said. “But it comes up when we talk about who would win in a fight, a gladiator fight, between Thanos and Captain America.”

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