Image description: Two armored Roman soldiers battling on a tense setting. End ID.
Image description: Two armored Roman soldiers battling on a tense setting. End ID.

Illustration by Dulce Pop-Bonini

The Roman Empire Trend: Spirit or Prejudice?

Are all men partially Roman in spirit or just trying to revive the Roman Empire by thought? The background explanation of the Roman Empire TikTok trend and the inherent racism of it.

“How often do you think about the Roman Empire?” This is a question that has been popping up all over our social media platforms. It is a trend that has been circling the Internet for the last month with women over the world asking their male friends or partners this specific question, and based on their answers, analyzing their characters and even egos. It is said that the higher the frequency, the higher the masculinity of the person you asked. Some of the men claimed to think about it at least once a week (“ONCE A WEEK?” shall a person question themselves). But, what about the Roman Empire makes it so masculine and male-driven?
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican state of ancient Rome and lasted around 1000 years from 753 BCE. It is centered around the concept of expansion of the Roman monarchy with war and via vis, meaning power in Latin. When one learns about the Roman Empire, either in school or on their own, they learn about violence, deaths, bloody weapons, and all elements that are connected to war or power, dominance, and ruling by male emperors.
War is a predominant topic in many documentaries, books, and films. One of the most classic films that is always suggested is “Gladiator,” released during the 2000s and directed by Ridley Scott. The film sparked interest in the general public as a historical drama film set in the “epic” Roman era, full of blood, battle, and fights. This is a starting point for many young boys that learn about violence from a young age, when films that project violence are often suggested to them by peers and family
When boys start playing violent video games at a young age, wear fighter costumes during Halloween, and engage in environments where men are seen as the ones that have the upper hand, they later put violence on a pedestal and it becomes incredibly normalized. Violence becomes a daily aspect of their lives both at school and in their extra-curricular activities, with antagonism dominating male sports and later relations.
I assume that the thought of violence gives men a sense of superiority, and the random thought of the Roman Empire gives them that casual satisfaction of ego and adrenaline boost. Men probably think of many different things that give them that confidence boost, but the Roman Empire is that “perfect little package” or combination of what someone from the outside expects them to think about all the time like blood or fights.
And now we question, why should men be the only ones interested in historical elements and why are they not asking women “how often do you think about the Roman Empire?” Women have had alternative answers to the question “what is the female Roman Empire?” Answers included the death of Princess Diana, the Gilmore Girl Series, Greek mythology, or Taylor Swift, and I fell victim to the question as well, answering straightaway with “Pride and Prejudice, the 2005 version.” Is it not sexist to assume that girls and women do not think about the actual Roman Empire or separating people based on “more serious” and “silly” topics? Why not ask everybody the same question?
On the one hand, it may just be a silly trend and we do not need to question its intentions because, to be honest, is not every TikTok “For you” page element just a silly trend? Someone had an idea and initiated a phenomenon. On the other hand, we should question what we consider okay to be present in our everyday lives and our social media platforms.
One can choose not to engage in subtle racism and choose not to participate in trends that circulate the media. The question of “how often you think about the Roman Empire” is not directly sexist, but if you think about it, it leaves openings for other trends that make men seem intellectually stronger, smarter and automatically the superior one. Then again, it is just a trend that can exist without us participating in it and just criticize it from afar.
Anna Stathopoulou is Columns Editor. Email them at
gazelle logo