Roman Empire on the Mind: 5 Buildings That Justify the Male Fixation With the Era

How often do you think about the Roman Empire? Thousands of years removed from its fall in AD 476, a growing trend on social media reveals that the ancient civilization is still top of mind for many people—particularly men. In posing the question to their male friends and significant others on TikTok and Instagram, content creators have revealed an underlying fascination with the society’s politics, inventions, and particularly its style of combat that feels oddly gender-specific. For many men, it seems, all trains of thought lead to Rome. Plenty of women participating in the discussion have been surprised to learn that their boyfriends are pondering the society as often as every single day. The New York Times points to an Instagram reel (and a subsequent Twitter amplification) encouraging women to question their male partners about the civilization’s relevance to them as the phenomenon’s genesis, and so far, it has spurred hundreds of TikTok videos as well as a secondary conversation about what the female version of the obsession might be. Whether it’s the macho Colosseum showdowns or the humble aqueduct, revisiting ancient Rome offers something for everyone. Its staying power as a subject of intrigue over millennia for myriad reasons has been proven, but among the most lasting symbols of the Roman Empire is its iconic architecture. Read on to learn about five buildings that justify the male obsession with empire.

The Colosseum

The Colosseum, also known as the Flavian Amphitheater

Photo: Andrea Ronchini/NurPhoto via Getty Images

“Every time I fight people, I think about walking into the Colosseum,” Adam Woolard, a model and boxer, told his fiancée, former Bachelorette Hannah Browne, in a viral TikTok. “It’s like, if this is a fight to the death and people are around you cheering, I have to win. I think about it constantly.” Built between the years 72 and 80, the Colosseum is perhaps the most famous remnant from the fallen Roman Empire. Though gladiator fights were among the most popular forms of entertainment in the iconic amphitheater, the space was also used for executions, plays, and battle reenactments. However, despite being an emblematic symbol of ancient Rome, its architect remains unknown.

Hadrian’s Villa

Canopus colonnade in Hadrian’s Villa, filled with Roman copies of Greek statues

Photo: DEA/S. Vannini/Getty Images

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