Rome wasn’t built in a day but it’s certainly enough time for it to invade the entire internet.

How often do you think about the Roman Empire? According to TikTok, men can’t help but think about it all of the time.

If you’re not as chronically online as I am you’ll be forgiven for not knowing that the ancient civilisation has seen a bit of a comeback.

What is the Roman Empire trend on TikTok?

@ambarrail This trend is incredible. Some of the best ones #romanempire #romanempirecompilation ♬ original sound - ambarrai

Our story technically begins in 27 BCE but we might have to jump forward a little for the purposes of this. ( Listen to a couple of podcasts if you want to catch up)

Instead, the Roman Empire trend is said to have started with Swedish influencer Saskia Cor.

She challenged her Instagram and then TikTok followers to ask the men in their lives how often they think about the Roman Empire, according to the Guardian.

That being said, when the trend started and who it was started by is a bit unclear.

The Insider has reported that the trend actually originated from a Roman reenactor named Gaius Flavius.

The reenactor reportedly posted an Instagram reel in August where he said that women don’t realize how often men think about the Roman Empire.

While its origins remain a bit uncertain, its simple premise and its surprising answers quickly captured the internet’s attention and has since amassed over a billion views.

Many women have been left gobsmacked by the responses from their male friends, partners and family members - often people whom they have known their entire lives.

@bbcradio1 be honest…how often do YOU think about the roman empire? 👀 #romanempire #theromanempire #roman #gregjames ♬ original sound - BBC Radio 1

The responses have ranged from “three or four times a month”, to “every couple of days” to as frequently as “at least once a day”.

It’s important to note here that the trend has been criticised as being simplistic and heteronormative.

Critics have accused the viral question of being sexist and guilty of reinforcing gender stereotypes. It does feel very Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus after all.

It wouldn’t be the first viral trend this year that’s drawn this kind of criticism with the rise of ‘girl’ related activities on the likes of TikTok including ‘Girl Dinner’ and ‘Girl Math’.

That being said, I can never resist a good internet talking point and it’s certainly been a fun and enlightening week quizzing the men in my life ( even if their answers are still baffling to me).

Why do men think about the Roman Empire?

@thecamhigby #camhigby #rome #romanempire #romanempire🇮🇹 ♬ original sound - Camhigby

This is the one burning question on the minds of many women this week and one that I wish I had a concrete answer for you.

When I asked my direct and deeply sarcastic Glaswegian dad, he scoffed: “Why the f*** would I think about the Roman Empire?”

And I took a sigh of relief knowing that I am indeed my father’s daughter.

I then turned to my friends and other family members who had very different answers for me.

“It’s such an interesting period,”  one defended.

He added: “The Roman Empire lasted 600 years and changed the world.”

Another friend shared: “Okay so I didn’t realise this but it is at least once a month pretty much anytime I’m on a long road or in a big city”.

One of my uncles shared that he thought about the Roman Empire around once a year, while another said that it crossed his mind about three times a week.

I also messaged a friend – who is currently living and studying history in Italy – the same question.

He shared:”Hahaha, as a historian working on Empire based in Italy, I’m probably quite an outlier.

“This past week…several times a day haha but ordinarily…hmmm several times a week maybe?

“Maybe I should be keeping a Roman diary!”

@antanddec Things Dec can do: Think about the #RomanEmpire ♬ original sound - Ant & Dec

Beyond it being 'cool' and 'interesting', why do so many men think about it so often and why don't women?

From Hollywood blockbusters like Spartacus and Gladiator to our school curriculum, we have a long history of associating the Roman Empire with masculine strength.

Hannah Cornwell, a historian of the ancient world at Birmingham University, spoke to the Washington Post.

She shares that the first thing that comes to mind when Ancient Rome is mentioned is 'an image of the Roman legion, the imperial eagle and that sort of military aspect.'

The historian added: 'Along with gladiators, which has a long association with masculinity and power.'

Of course, Ancient Rome isn't all 'guy stuff' even if an internet trend is trying to divide it that way.

“Ancient Rome was of course patriarchal and violent,” Lewis Webb, a historian of ancient Rome at Oxford University, wrote in an email to the Washington Post.

“But it was also a diverse place: there were numerous forms of masculinity, women could have agency and power, and there were multiple gender expressions and identities, as well as various sexualities.”

So it looks like good old Hollywood sexism and dusty old history textbooks are to blame.

What’s the female equivalent to TikTok’s Roman Empire trend?


@princessartpop saw this video and i felt attacked lol #romanempire #femaleromanempire #thetudors #historybuff #historytikok #princesssdiana ♬ Romeo And Juliet, Op.64, Act 1, Dance Of The Knights - Prokofiev

Women have been scrambling on social media ever since the trend went viral in the hopes of finding that one collective ( and fundamentally useless) thing that we think about on a regular basis.

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll notice that the headline says that there isn’t one.

And I’m not lying, this isn’t a ‘clickbait’ piece and it’s not for the lack of trying that women can’t seem to agree on one thing.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen some truly great suggestions on social media.

Suggestions began with alternative historical periods like The Tudors (probably because of Henry Cavill) and more specifically the six wives of Henry VIII (probably since they were among the only women the textbooks ever told us about at school).

The Titanic, the Romanovs, the Egyptians, and Princess Diana have all been namechecked as well.

While men find themselves drifting off, dreaming about the Gladiators, battles, and Roman Gods, women apparently turn instead to Greek folklore and the myths of Zeus, Aphrodite, and Athena.

The Northern Echo: How often do you think about the Roman Empire? According to TikTok, men can’t help but think

Looking at endless TikTok clips and comments, women aren’t focusing on such ancient history when there’s so much to delve into in today’s contemporary culture.

Taylor Swift – with her 272 million Instagram followers – is probably the closest thing we have to a modern deity (I mean her concert caused seismic activity - the equivalent to a 2.3 magnitude earthquake after all!)

Tom Holland's cover of Rihanna's 'Umbrella', Mathew McFadyen’s hand flex in the 2005 classic Pride & Prejudice and that gutwrenching closing scene in series 2 of the BBC show Fleabag are all along the cultural moments that the masses simply can’t stop obsessing over.

But of course, that’s the fun side.

@melissa_u #stitch with @emmy ♬ original sound - Melissa Urban

Within hours, days, too short a time really, the discussion of what the female version is turned into troubling thoughts of True Crime, murder, kidnapping, and assault

Many social media creators and countless women in the comments have opened up about how they often worry about their safety as they expressed fears of being kidnapped or followed.

When one creator posed the question to her followers, a user commented: "Being kidnapped/ assaulted/ murdered/ and the Titanic – topics that live rent-free in my mind.”

Another chimed in: “I try to explain this to my husband. I’m not sure any man really gets it.”

While a third person pointed out that thinking about murder and kidnapping is not “random”.

With a teary eye emoji, she added: "We HAVE to think about these things.”

One in four women have been sexually assaulted or raped in England and Wales, according to Rape Crisis.

20% of women experience sexual assault between the ages of 16-59 and 10% of women experience rape from the age of 13 in Scotland, according to Public Health Scotland.

The truth is not all men think about the Roman Empire but all women do think about this.

It's our collective experience and there's nothing random about it at all.

Some of us might enjoy daydreaming about our ex-best friend we used to know from time to time.

Or we might regularly lose our train of thought over Greek mythology, period dramas, the actor Pedro Pascal, or one of the million other things mentioned in the female version of this trend.

But each woman will have a different answer for you and not one of these somewhat random, fun, and simple but ultimately time-wasting topics comes close to that shared experience.

We think about it walking home; at school, at work, at the gym.

It crosses our minds in bed; in restaurants, in the cinema, and on the school run.

It's morning, afternoon, evening, and night.

It's the one thing that we all share and are bonded by.

We don’t have the luxury of thinking about bloodshed gone by - the lives lost in ancient wars and the gruesome horrors seen in the Colosseum.

We have enough battles of our own.