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I Think About Rome* All The Time
I think about Rome all the time. Specifically, I think about the big-budget HBO drama Rome that ran from 2005–2007. That magnificent series was a richly realized historical epic that mixed sex and violence and back-stabbing political intrigue and served as a blueprint for the mega-hit series Game of Thrones, which was vastly inferior to its prototype in every way.
Rome was a show about power, loyalty, and betrayal set against the greatest empire in human history. Game of Thrones was lots of drinking from goblets, whispering secrets and dragons, and other childish bullshit. Game of Thrones was great fun, but it was always a naughty fairytale for adults.
Rome, on the other hand, explored big themes like ambition, love, and nudity.
I’m not the only person who thinks about Rome… and Rome. According to a recent social media trend, men think about Rome daily. The hashtag #RomanEmpire leads to videos with millions of views of women asking the men in their lives if they think about Rome and the men usually say “yes.” Let’s agree that social media trends are usually short-lived, superficial call-and-response games where someone, somewhere, posts an opinion or a hot take and then the entire internet, a vast, permanently bored borg, responds at once, and that’s what I’m doing right now. I’m participating in a social media trend.
I don’t think an interest in Rome is the sole province of one gender, so if you were going to make that comment, just a heads up. I don’t want to stop you from enjoying your life, but all types of people enjoy reading and studying the past. My favorite book about the history of Rome is scholar Mary Beard’s SPQR: A History Of Ancient Rome. She’s a cracking good writer. But this trend is more about American men living in the 2020s than the actual story of Rome itself.
It does not surprise me that today’s dudes are into dudes who, once upon a long time ago, unapologetically crushed their enemies. To them — to us — Rome rocks. The leather armor with the built-in abs. The gladiators with the net and trident. “Are you not entertained!” “I am Spartacus!” Macho fun. I actually believe public crucifixions would be…