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How often do you think about the Roman Empire? Expert has thoughts on the new TikTok trend | Offbeat News

iStock image. Rome, Italy, April 23, 2023: Parade for the birth of Rome on April 23, 2023 in Rome, Italy. People dressed in costume as gladiators, centurions, senators, handmaids and ancient romans citizens walk in parade under the Coliseum of Rome, to celebrate the birth of the Eternal City.

An expert has offered insight into why so many men, according to a highly popular TikTok trend, are obsessed with the Roman Empire.

The hashtag ‘roman empire’ has been viewed well over a billion times on TikTok, with most videos aimed at asking men the question: how often do you think about the Roman Empire?

The general consensus for gentlemen both young and old seems to be: an awful lot.

Historian Dame Mary Beard has theorised that this worldwide obsession has occurred because the Roman Empire’s reign provides “a safe space for being macho in”.

The TikTok trend sees women ask the men in their lives, seemingly out of nowhere, how frequently they find themselves thinking about the empire which ruled ancient Rome.

Rather than being thrown by the random query, most men featured in the videos provide a quickfire answer; with many claiming they think about the empire almost every day.

The 68-year-old historian, who has presented BBC documentaries about the Romans and has a new book coming out about their emperor, said of the trend: “It’s extraordinary… it’s [the Roman Empire] so long ago, you can indulge your macho fantasies without it really mattering.

“I think this is what’s going on there.

“I suppose I think that people like me, women who work on the Roman Empire, this is our moment to tell these blokes that the Roman Empire is a bit more interesting than perhaps they think it is.”

In this photo taken Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017, British author Mary Beard gestures during an interview with the Associated Press talks about her new book 'Women in Power' in London. A new book by classical historian Mary Beard links Greek mythology to modern Twitter trolls, arguing both have a problem with women who speak up. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
Dame Mary’s new book focuses on the Roman emperor

The classicist and author also suggested that Boris Johnson has taken inspiration from ancient civilisations such as the Romans to form his public persona.

Dame Mary debated the former prime minster at an Intelligence Squared session in November 2015 over which civilisation was better: Greece or Rome.

She defeated Johnson with her defence of Rome.

Asked about the former politician, she said: “I think Boris Johnson is someone who’s put the ancient world very much front in his image and I think we need to think about that; whether he’s getting it right, and whether it was all a pose.

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“[But] I think that there are more interesting things to think about in the ancient world than how Boris Johnson sees it, that’s for sure.”

Dame Mary, a former professor of classics at Cambridge, also believes that modern society may have more in common with the Ancient Romans than we might think.

“One of the funniest stories of two of them [Romans] who get told off because [when] they go to the races… they take their correspondence with them – and that’s thought to be terribly insulting to the people who were watching the races.

“I thought, that is exactly like the kind of scene you’d have if a member of the royal family went to the cup final and was caught out texting when he should have been watching the game.

“We share some of our prejudices with them.”

Dame Mary added: “Rome didn’t just survive because of violence or because they’re a police state – they survive because most people actually go along with them.

“The history of some of the most awful regimes have been bolstered by people prepared to co-operate.”

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