*Editor’s note: This article has been reposted since its original publishing to include more context and further analysis.
On TikTok, women are asking their male friends how often they think about the Roman Empire. The Roman Empire, which fell 2,000 years ago, fills the minds of many men interviewed on campus. I set out to see if the guys at M-A really do think about the Roman Empire as frequently as social media says they do.
To start off, I asked campus aid Victor Jimenez Cocio how often he thinks about the Roman Empire. Oblivious to the TikTok trend, Cocio replied, “Every night before I go to sleep, I think of all of the brave men and [the empire’s] successful history and soldiers.” Cocio thought the question was hilarious, and nearly everyone interviewed gave similar responses.
Senior Luke Skoskiewicz, who dressed up as a Roman warrior for Halloween, said, “The Roman Empire is awesome. I think about it every day.”
Junior Leonardo Mazzon said, “I think about the Roman Empire three to four times a week.” Mazzon then shared his YouTube history of the recent videos he has watched about the Roman Empire.
Sophomore Hunter Cabral, who has not used TikTok, explained that he thinks of the Roman Empire often. He said, “I think about the large armies that they had, their Emperors, and their lavish lives. I watch mostly informative videos about the history of the Roman Empire.”
According to Fortune Magazine’s Mohamed El Aassa, “The Roman Empire’s legacy is deeply entrenched in [American] politics, architecture, education, language, and laws. From the Capitol to the military, America has placed a Roman heritage at its foundation.”
But the big question is: why do men in particular think about the Roman Empire? Discussing the TikTok trend in Time magazine, renowned classicist Mary Beard said, “In some ways, ancient Rome is a kind of safe place for macho fantasies. It’s where men can pretend to be macho men. That must be part of the appeal, I suppose.”
During the expansion of the Roman Empire, soldiers were brutal conquerors who celebrated public violence. The Colosseum in Rome held blood sports like animal hunts and fights to the death between gladiators.
However, many students interviewed emphasized Ancient Rome’s accomplishments beyond the battlefield.
Junior Mohan Gupta wore a Roman toga for Halloween. He said, “I think of the Roman Empire occasionally. When I do, I think of how it was a major step forward in the history of civilization and introduced many staples of society, such as public order, sanitation, and the road systems.”
When asked what Skoskiewicz thinks about, he said, “I mean, the Legion. Caesar, Rome itself, aqueducts, roads, archways, everything really.”
Junior Daniel Farrell said, “Every now and then, I think about the aqueducts, archways, and roads. I feel inspired by the Roman Empire.”
Mazzon said, “They were pioneers in science and technology. They were ahead of their time.”