Are Men Obsessed With the Roman Empire? Yes, Say Men.

Via:  John Russell  •  2 months ago  •  13 comments

Are Men Obsessed With the Roman Empire? Yes, Say Men.
Ms. Vincent asked her husband, Remy, how often the ancient civilization crossed his mind, and shared his response in a post that has now been viewed millions of times: “Without missing a beat he said ‘Every day.’”

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www.nytimes.com   /2023/09/15/style/roman-empire-men-tiktok-instagram.html

Are Men Obsessed With the Roman Empire? Yes, Say Men.

Callie Holtermann, Frank Rojas 5-7 minutes   9/15/2023

Women are asking the men in their lives how often they think about ancient Rome. Their responses, posted online, can be startling in their frequency.


Men have only one thing on their minds. Credit... Alberto Pizzoli/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The Roman Empire began in 27 B.C. and fell in A.D. 476.

And in A.D. 2023, it went viral on TikTok.

In posts shared on social media, women have been asking the men in their lives how often they think about ancient Rome. “ Constantly ,” one husband responded. “ Like, every day, ” said a boyfriend. As of Thursday night, a thread on X, formerly known as Twitter, went on like this   for MDCLXXIX messages . (Sorry, that’s 1,679.)

The posts have set off skepticism over whether men are actually obsessed with the Romans — and if so, what draws them to the ancient empire. It appears that the populus will not rest without answers.

“I’m starting to get sick of being asked about this,” said Kevin Feeney, a faculty fellow at New York University who teaches an introductory class on Roman history. By his estimation, enrollment is about 60 percent male.

Ancient Roman society was “extremely, extremely patriarchal,” he said, and was dominated by such alpha males as Julius Caesar and Augustus, its first emperor.

But that’s far from the whole story of Rome, or of its scholars, he added. Roman society influences everything from the United States’ form of government to its language to its architecture (right down to the prefix “arch,” which, as it happens, is also a structure popularized by the Romans).

Its history has been dissected by scholars including   Mary Beard , the author of the 2015 book “ SPQR .” Ms. Beard declined to comment because she is off filming. In Rome.

Dr. Feeney said he had “seen this idea out there that men care more about history,” as a result of the social media trend. “And obviously, that’s complete nonsense.”

Still, many   women have been shocked   by the enthusiasm men display for the ancient empire.

The trend seemed to really take off last week after Kelsey Lewis Vincent of Wilson, N.C., was scrolling through social media one night when she came across an Instagram Reel mysteriously suggesting that men the world over were hiding a secret:   “Ladies, many of you do not realise how often men think about the Roman Empire.”

Ms. Vincent asked her husband, Remy, how often the ancient civilization crossed his mind, and shared his response in a   post   that has now been viewed millions of times: “Without missing a beat he said ‘Every day.’”

When asked in an interview what “every day” entailed, in practical effect, Mr. Vincent, 33, said, “I’ll be going through my day and my internal monologue, as I’m driving on the highway, will remind me that this was something the Romans in a way created.” He continued, “I then start to wonder what daily life was like back then.”

Delara Alviri, 28, an entertainment lawyer in Los Angeles, found greater ambivalence when she surveyed 10 of her male friends about Rome this week. Five of them were really into it, but the other five were relatively unmoved. One said he thought about ancient Rome only when he ordered pizza from the chain Little Caesars.

Ms. Alviri said the trope reminded her of “ girl dinner ,” another online phenomenon that declared something not obviously gendered — in that case, a plate of nibbles — to be a uniquely gendered experience. “I feel like it has to do with a lot of the current questioning of gender roles and norms in general,” she said.

Judith Hallett, an emeritus professor of classics at the University of Maryland, described ancient Rome as “a place where there were many different definitions of masculinity.”

But after first being exposed to the civilization in middle and secondary school, Dr. Hallett added, many men continue to consume Roman history through mass media.

In recent popular culture, Roman history has been told through entertainment media like “Gladiator,” winner of the 2000 Oscar for best picture, and the TV show “Spartacus,” which focus on battles and often appeal to male audiences. “The games you play and what TV shows you watch are informing a new audience of Roman fans,” she said.

Others have argued that ancient Rome is intriguing to Americans because the country is facing a similar decline today.

That kind of status anxiety is not unique to the United States, or even to the 21st century, Dr. Feeney of N.Y.U. said. Indeed, The New York Times published articles comparing the state of the United States to the decline of Rome in   1975 ,   1999 ,   2007 ,   2018 ,   2021   and   just this month .

Still, it’s not as if ancient Rome is   all   that men talk about, Mr. Vincent said.

“We’re not necessarily cracking open beers talking about the Roman Empire,” he said. “But it does kind of come up when we talk about who would win in a fight — a gladiatorial fight — between Thanos and Captain America.”


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Professor Principal
1  seeder  JohnRussell    2 months ago

www.nytimes.com   /2023/09/20/arts/roman-empire-women-tiktok.html

What’s Your Roman Empire? We Asked People Who Are Not Men.

Sopan Deb 7-8 minutes   9/20/2023

How Often Do Women Think About … ?

Unlike men, they definitely aren’t thinking about the Roman Empire. Their ex-best friends, space aliens and Princess Diana are more likely to be on the list.

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Natasha Vaynblat, a stand-up comedian, has had aliens on her mind for the last week.   Consuming   her, in fact, she said.

What if aliens, like the stereotypical green guy with big black eyes, are actually just super evolved humans in the future?” Vaynblat, who also writes for NBC’s “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” mused in an interview this week.

This, she said, was   her   Roman Empire.

If the term “Roman Empire” sounds odd in this context, that means you are either A. blessedly not as online as others or B. thinking about your own Roman Empire.

(We would also accept C. “All Of The Above.”)

For the UnRomanized, there has been Discourse online this month about the Roman Empire. It is based on a   social media trend   across multiple platforms revealing that a lot of men are privately obsessed with the Roman Empire. It has spurred others to ask their male counterparts: “Et tu?”

And because the internet is an endless expanse of Content, this has spurred a reverse trend, where women and nonbinary people have wanted to weigh in with their own Roman Empires, loosely defined as the topics one privately contemplates more than anyone realizes. Where is your mind meandering when no one else is around? (In one widely shared post on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, a   user wrote , “Someone said the female version of the Roman Empire is ‘when is the last time you thought about your ex best friend’ and uhhhhhhhhhh.”)

Being kidnapped. That video of Tom Holland   lip syncing .   Princess Diana . All have emerged as possibilities. There isn’t just one topic, according to Aliyah Boston,   the W.N.B.A. forward : “I think about just so many different things all at once. I feel like my brain just keeps going.” Though if she had to pick one, Boston said it would be soca, a music genre related to calypso and popular in the Caribbean.

Vaynblat has multiple Roman Empires, too — the alien one and then a more serious one: motherhood.

“My constant thought is: Should I be a mother? And how many of my friends am I losing to motherhood?” Vaynblat, 36, said, adding, “My conclusion is I’m not going to be a mom and I’m just constantly trying to find somebody who agrees. A friend who will stay.”

Min Jin Lee, author of   the novel “Pachinko ,” described her equivalent of the Roman Empire as “Colonial America,” a subject of her college thesis.

While discussions on American colonization often focus on the harms that settlers imposed on Indigenous Americans, Lee said she’s also particularly fascinated by what she sees as another legacy of white Americans: “cultural inferiority,” which is a theme she explores more generally in her fiction. In particular, Lee said she often sees “obsequiousness” to France and England as common throughout American institutions.

“You can see it in every museum,” Lee said. “You can see in every piece of literature that anybody who gets educated in America has. And it’s a real kind of chip on their shoulder.”

Sometimes, the object of obsessive thinking is based on one’s stage of life, and the reality of living in America. Sandy Rustin, the playwright   behind the Broadway comedy “The Cottage,”   said she spends a lot of her private thoughts on how to stop gun violence in the United States, a result of sending multiple children to school.

On the daily, they have drills now,” Rustin said. Her son was at a football game last week when there was a scare in the crowd that there might be someone with a gun. “It’s just part of the vernacular of our kids that we’re raising in this country right now. It’s become a norm. And I find it so deeply upsetting.”

She added, “As a solution-oriented person, it’s something I spend a lot of time thinking about.”

Sanjana Curtis, an astrophysicist at the University of California, Berkeley, finds herself combining her existential fascinations with a scientific background when considering her Roman Empire.

Every day, I do think about how wild it is that we are here, that the universe exists and the whole sequence of events that happens for us to exist at all,” Curtis said.

Instead of thinking about one empire, Curtis thinks about every single one: Her research involves the origin of elements.

“I do this research because I have always been this person who needs to understand where and how everything came to be,” Dr. Curtis said, adding, “If we were to understand how we came to be, maybe we’d know how to act better every day.”

Leandra Ellis-Gaston, who performs as Anne Boleyn in the Broadway musical “Six,” thinks about location. More specifically, one location in particular. (She checked with her husband, who does   not   think about the Roman Empire.)

“I’m constantly actually thinking about that saying, ‘New York or nowhere,’” Ellis-Gaston, 29, said. “I’m always like, ‘Is that true or not?’ Some days I’m like, ‘It’s so real.’ It is New York or nowhere. New York is life,” she said. “Then other times I’m like, ‘I need to pack myself up in a van and take my dog and my husband and just travel the world .’”

A secondary Roman Empire for Ellis-Gaston: Beyoncé. She thinks a lot about the artist she considers “the Diana Ross of our time.” Even the Romans would agree on that one.

The preoccupation with the Roman Empire isn’t limited to men, as Ellen Adair, an actor, noted. Adair’s Roman Empire? The Roman Empire, which they think about “at least once per day.”

Adair, who is nonbinary, was recently in Europe for the London premiere of a horror film they are starring in, “Herd,” and insisted on going to Portugal to see Roman ruins. Adair’s mother is an art historian who exposed them to classical allusions growing up and references to mythology.

Adair doesn’t just think often about the Roman Empire in its heyday, but also spends time preoccupied with its collapse. After all, no empire has lasted forever.

“Are we getting to a point where we’re going to have some kind of societal collapse, whether it’s from climate change or, like, technological advances or something like that?” Adair pondered. “You know, if the human race isn’t wiped out, are we headed for a second Dark Ages? Maybe.”

They continued : “ I would not be totally surprised to be a ghost in a couple of hundred years and being like, ‘Yeah, I feel like we were headed toward that.’”

Professor Principal
2  seeder  JohnRussell    2 months ago

I put this in the same box as I put a lot of other weird things in modern America. 

I do sometimes "think" about the Roman Empire, but only if I am reading or watching something about it, which I occasionally do, but certainly not every day. 

I like movies and miniseries about Rome, there is a lot of drama and it takes you into what is essentially another world than the one we inhabit 2 millenia later. 

I have a general familiarity with the era of the Roman empire and know who Augustus, Caligula, Nero, Claudius, and other Roman emperors were and what they are known for. I have watched videos about Pompeii and the destruction of that Roman town by volcanic ash.  I recently watched a short video about Roman tenements and the way the lower classes lived in Rome. 

But I am certainly not obsessed with it, I just read and watch a lot of history. 

Professor Quiet
2.1  cjcold  replied to  JohnRussell @2    2 months ago
movies and miniseries about Rome

Watched Rome just last week. Glad I didn't live then.

I loved being a teen in the 60s. Fell head over heels for it.

Loved being a long-haired hippie musician back in the day.

Actually did learn to fight with sticks, swords and knives.

Had a Filipino friend who was good at Arnis and Kali.

Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
2.2  Trout Giggles  replied to  JohnRussell @2    2 months ago
I recently watched a short video about Roman tenements and the way the lower classes lived in Rome. 

I would like to watch that

Professor Principal
2.2.1  seeder  JohnRussell  replied to  Trout Giggles @2.2    2 months ago

The video I watched was on the Chicago Public Library site. You wouldnt be able to get access to it. 

Here is one along the same lines.

Professor Principal
2.2.2  seeder  JohnRussell  replied to  JohnRussell @2.2.1    2 months ago

Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
2.2.3  Trout Giggles  replied to  JohnRussell @2.2.1    2 months ago

Thanks for the link! Interesting and informative

Sophomore Quiet
3  afrayedknot    2 months ago

I turned to the Stoics…Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, Epictetus…

”It is in our power to have no opinion about a thing, and not to be disturbed in our soul; for things themselves have no natural power to form our judgments.”

Sometimes easier said than done, but a good thing to try to emulate. Peace. 

Professor Principal
3.1  seeder  JohnRussell  replied to  afrayedknot @3    2 months ago

I think Roman philosophy has more practical applications in the modern world than Greek philosophy does. 

Sophomore Quiet
3.1.1  afrayedknot  replied to  JohnRussell @3.1    2 months ago

Also like the essays of Montaigne and more recently Emerson.

Reading is indeed fundamental. 

Professor Quiet
3.2  cjcold  replied to  afrayedknot @3    2 months ago

Everything we ever experience forms our reality.

Grew up reading Heinlein, Herbert, Asimov, Clark, etc...

Professor Guide
4  Tacos!    2 months ago
Are Men Obsessed With The Roman Empire?

Um, no. 

This is how the world works, these days. We get a handful of people - or even just one person - saying something goofy on the internet, and we leap straight to “all [insert name of group] are saying [X].”

Buzz of the Orient
Professor Expert
5  Buzz of the Orient    2 months ago

The only time I think about the Roman Empire is when I watch a movie that touches on it, such as Gladiator, Ben Hur, Spartacus, Cleopatra, etc.  Does that make me unusual?


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