What do Nicki Minaj and Marcus Aurelius have in common? Both have strong ties to the Roman Empire and both are currently trending in pop culture. Minaj, who has an alter ego named Roman and a song called “Roman’s Revenge,” hosted the MTV Video Music Awards this week ahead of a new album due in November. Meanwhile on TikTok, women are finding out just how often the men in their lives think about the Roman Empire. And their answers indicate a frequency that has been shocking to both the women filming the viral videos and viewers who might have erroneously thought Julius Caesar ruled the Roman Empire (though we’re not naming names here).
In the trend on TikTok, women record interactions with their husbands or boyfriends in which they ask them how often they think about the Roman Empire or to share the last time they thought about it. Based on their answers, if you haven’t been thinking about the Roman Empire as frequently as every day or at least three to four times a month, you're doing it wrong. The men in these videos are serious in their answers, attempting to defend their responses as completely normal when their partners are shocked to learn what a huge part of their interior lives this historical period plays.
The amusing disconnect between these couples has contributed to the trend’s virality. The hashtag #RomanEmpire currently has over 893 million views, and the videos have been racking up hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of views across these creators’ pages. One compilation video of the most popular videos in the trend has accumulated over 8 million views. According to Insider, the trend's origins might trace back to a Roman reenactor named Gaius Flavius who posted an Instagram reel in August in which he said that women don’t realize how often men think about the Roman Empire. He suggested that they ask “husband, boyfriend, father, or brother” because they will “be surprised by their answers.”
But those whose high school world history courses are buried in the recesses of their minds can take comfort that not every man on their “For You” page is Ancient Rome-pilled. In a video with over a million views, a woman approaches her husband and asks the question of the hour, and he replies, “Like the Nicki Minaj album?” (For fact-checking purposes, there is no album of this name, but the reference to the song still stands.)
A TikToker named Molly (@princess_milkyy) made a video saying that she thinks about the Roman Empire “every single damn day” and then uses the green screen effect to put herself in front of a playlist of Minaj’s music.
Sure, the ancient civilization has had a lasting impact on our modern society, and there’s a lot that we can learn from it, but it still defies explanation that the Roman Empire is so front of mind for so many men. This trend begs the question: What other ancient civilizations are men thinking about? Mesopotamia? The Byzantine Empire? We’ll just have to wait for the next viral TikTok trend to find out.
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