Curious about what’s trending on TikTok these days?
Here something: A peculiar yet interesting obsession with the Roman Empire. No, really. In recent weeks, the “How do you feel about the Roman Empire?” trend has taken over TikTok. Primarily women are asking their husbands or boyfriends how often they think about the historical period only to receive extremely enthusiastic responses.
People are questioning why something like this is suddenly growing in popularity. Luckily, historian Tom Holland has some insight that definitely sheds some light on the trend.
In his Time magazine article, Holland explains that the Roman empire was “the apex predator of antiquity: powerful, terrifying, box-office.” Being that the Roman empire was several years ago suggests that modern audiences aren’t as disturbed by the cruel acts that history teaches us about.
“The Romans, much like the dinosaurs, are not merely glamorous—they are also safely extinct,” Holland pointed out.
Holland also writes that there is more than meets the eye when reviewing the trend. “Romans, more than any other ancient people, seem to offer America a distorted reflection of itself,” suggested Holland. At first it seems like a questionable thing to say, but the more Holland explained himself, the more things began to make sense.
“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 an 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.”
Rome and the United States has had their share of “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 civilization that is both ‘strange and familiar’; terrifying and glamorous; safely extinct and the image of themselves.”
That’s an awful lot to take in. Do you often think about the Roman Empire? People from this period definitely had cool clothes, lore, and pass times to take pride in, but to think about ancient Rome constantly is a little out there. When in Rome, they say to do as the Romans do. Perhaps we’ll leave this trend to those who are the real history buffs.