Gladiator I Dreamworks

TIKTOK HAS PROVEN yet again that anything can become a trend with commitment and dedication. At least that’s the only way to read the social media app’s latest fad, in which women ask their partners how often they think about the Roman Empire. The answer: with baffling frequency.

“Definitely weekly”, one man said when asked by his wife, adding that the Romans’ systems were “mental”. “How they lived, how they governed, how they built, like, engineering, food, like, septic systems, sewage systems…”

Another user’s boyfriend said he thought about the Roman Empire “probably every other day” simply because “it’s cool”.

And in another video, a user’s brother said he might think about it two to three times a week.

Unusually, this trend originated on Instagram, when @gaiusflavius, a Roman reenactor posted to his followers: “Ladies, many of you do not realise how often men think about the Roman Empire. Ask your husband/boyfriend/father/brother—you will be surprised by their answers!”

That was enough for TikTok to release the hounds and while there is probably very little point in attempting to dissect the motivations behind the trend, let’s try a few explanations out for size, from the achingly earnest to the pointedly cynical.

As you might recall from year 8 history class, the Roman Empire was one of the largest in human history, spanning nearly 500 years and stretching from Western Asia to what is now Wales (I didn’t recall that from history, sorry Mr Knight, but rather from a frantic Wikipedia search).

It is perhaps possible to link the ambition and desire for promotion of, say, a suburban financial planner to innate primal urges for conquest, and in that regard, no one has done it better than the swords and sandals brigade did 2,000 years ago. For these gentleman, Marcus Aurelius is a logical idol, a symbol of boundless careerism.

If you’re this type of gentleman you might consult Meditations at least weekly so when your partner asks how often you think about the Empire (in the same way that the guys on The Sopranos don’t call The Godfather trilogy The Godfather, or Godfather 2, but just ‘One’ ‘Two’ or ‘Three’, this type of man simply refers to the Roman Empire as ‘The Empire’. If you know, you know. If you don’t, fuck off back to physics) and you say once a week, it ain’t no lie.

As well as knowing their way around a battlefield, the Romans, it should be noted, also had aqueducts and running water by 300BC. No mean feat, and I can see why this might appeal to mechanically minded males impressed by mass feats of civil engineering. I personally am not built that way but even I sometimes drive through a cross-city tunnel and marvel at how such projects are conceived and executed. Similarly, I do recall my mouth falling open when I learned that the Great Pyramid of Giza took around 27 years to build using an estimated 2.3 million stones, each weighing a ton or more (loving Wikipedia today).

Still, if you were to ask me how often I think about these feats the answer would be around once every three to five years—sadly not frequently enough to start a trend.

As for the Roman Empire, it really depends on what content I’ve been consuming. Unprompted, I am probably still in the three-five year range but should Gladiator appear in my streaming carousel, that might prompt an anxiety daydream about being in a confined space with a Bengal tiger. Similarly, every so often in the news or in books, a writer might cite the Romans’ love of an orgy, which could send me down an awkward mental rabbit hole that I don’t really have time for at 3.45pm on a weekday.

Without wishing to question the premise of this trend too much for fear that it might collapse under the weight of even mild scrutiny, there is the issue of prompting. If you ask someone simply what they’re thinking about (see below), you could get any number of answers—possibly Roman orgies. But if you ask them specifically how often they think about the Roman Empire, then you’re probably going to get a more specific answer. If you then ask them why they think about it, they will be forced to come up with logical reasons–admiration of aqueducts is more palatable to girlfriends and wives than orgies.

There is another final explanation, which I almost hesitate to suggest for fear I’ll be accused of being a spoilsport. These boyfriends, husbands and partners are willing participants in this exciting content harvest. They’ve been prepped and are excited to jump on board a viral trend. “Sure honey, I’ll make up some shit about aqueducts or their sanitation systems or something. Don’t worry, I got you.” And if that’s the case, after a big day on Wikipedia, then I am more than ready to be asked.

Things you might be thinking about when you’re not thinking about the Roman Empire


Atta boy, eyes on the prize.


Don’t really feel like making a sandwich today. Maybe I should get a Bánh mì?

The Voice

I wonder how my in-laws are going to vote. Wish I could ask them.

The gym

Nailed that deadlift this morning. Rig is on track for the beach this weekend.


Fuckin’ Tim. Dude always has nice kicks. Maybe I need new casual trainers? Or I could bring out some loafers? They go nice with my chinos.


I hope they realise I did bath time yesterday and the day before. Going to kick up a stink if I have to do it again tonight.

Social media

How the f*ck is Cheryl in Capri? She was just in Vietnam. Wait, she’s home? I’m confused. Why does she post stories from past holidays?


I swear I actually wasn’t. Was thinking about what happened to JC… that’s Julius, not Jesus… Jesus!

The Roman Empire

Um, yeah, well those dudes had their shit sorted. Running water, straight roads. No wonder they ruled the world for so long. “How’s that honey, we good? I can do it again if you like?”

Getty Images


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