Historian explains why TikTok is so obsessed with the Roman Empire

Historian explains why TikTok is so obsessed with the Roman Empire
Bizzare TikTok Trend Reveals Men Think About the Roman Empire A Lot
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If TikTok is to be believed, American men are absolutely obsessed with ancient Rome – and now a historian has explained why.

The trend: “How often do you think about the Roman Empire?” has swept the social media platform in recent weeks.

Scores of women have posted about how often their husbands or boyfriends said they think about it. More often than not, it’s more than once a day.

But why the fascination? Historian Tom Holland could have the answer – and it doesn’t reflect well on America.

Firstly, he writes in Time magazine, it is likely to be something more “visceral” than the great orators and writers like Cicero and Ovid, whose work still gets academics excited 2,000 years later.

Instead, he says, it is because the Roman empire was “the apex predator of antiquity: powerful, terrifying, box-office”.

Not only this, he adds, but the fact that it was so long ago means modern audiences don’t feel as uncomfortable with the cruel and violent acts of the Roman Empire as with more recent examples.

“The Romans, much like the dinosaurs, are not merely glamorous—they are also safely extinct.”

However, writes Holland, an author and co-host of podcast The Rest Is History, there is more to it than that: “Romans, more than any other ancient people, seem to offer America a distorted reflection of itself.”


the roman empire is actually fascinating

“Just as American conservatives today look back wistfully to the Founding Fathers as patrons of an age of rugged independence and virtue, so did the Founding Fathers look back with an equal wistfulness to the early years of Rome.

“There, for any infant republic victorious in a war against a great monarchy, was a morality tale to be found that could hardly help but serve as inspiration.

“The Romans, like the Americans, had originally been ruled by a king; then, resolved no longer to live in servitude, they had dared all in a heroic and ultimately successful campaign to expel him.”

The picture gets less rosy when you look to 21st century comparisons, he continues.

Both the US and Rome suffered from from wars in Iraq, the rise of rival superpowers, “political vendettas pursued in the law courts” and “the emergence of radicals preaching that the last will be first, and the first will be last, to the excitement of many, and the consternation of others”.

When Americans think of Rome, Holland concludes, they are thinking of a civilisation that is both “strange and familiar; terrifying and glamorous; safely extinct and the image of themselves”.

Let's just hope the US doesn't suffer the same fate as the Roman Empire any time soon.

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