Thinking about the Roman Empire: It turns out I can't stop thinking about Ancient Rome

I laughed at the most recent social media trend. But now I feel seen

The Roman Empire has left a lasting legacy. Image: AdobeThe Roman Empire has left a lasting legacy. Image: Adobe
The Roman Empire has left a lasting legacy. Image: Adobe

I laughed when I was asked, in bed the other night, how often I thought about the Roman Empire.

My geeky inner being was delighted at the prospect that this could be some historical quiz form of foreplay (should I respond by asking her to recite pi, I thought, or get her to name all the prime ministers since the war? Talk to me, baby...) - and it was a bit of a let down to find I was just being asked the question behind the new social media trend.

Anyway, I had a think. And... oh. Ah. OK.

The Forum in Rome Image: AdobeThe Forum in Rome Image: Adobe
The Forum in Rome Image: Adobe

The most recent time was on Saturday, watching Match of the Day. A Newcastle player - I forget whom - was described as being a product of Wallsend Boys Club, famously the alma mater of Alan Shearer, Michael Carrick and many other excellent players. Wallsend gets its name from being literally the end of Hadrian's Wall - and off my mind went, thinking of the wall and a very happy childhood family holiday, probably in the late 80s, which involved going to different sections of the remaining wall, and collecting inch-high metal Roman soldier models. Yes, I was that sort of child.

But in the last few weeks I've also read about a coin bearing the name of a previously-unknown Iron Age ruler that was unearthed in Hampshire. It was struck shortly after Julius Caesar's first raid on Britain, when his army was repelled (something I didn't know much about) before he more famously returned the next year with more firepower and smashed his way through the country. Then there was the story about another archaeological discovery which has made the experts redraw their views of what the Roman roads network looked like in Devon and Cornwall

Actually - earlier this month I went to Southampton's City Museum, which as well as a fascinating Titanic section also outlines the city's development from Roman times, with fragments of amphorae on display and videos from a Roman's point of view. So I'm certainly at least once a week, and that's before regular thoughts about how Roman soldiers used to make their shields form a testudo (tortoise) in battle for protection.

And indeed, when that silliness was flying round about Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg having a fight at the Colosseum... that sparked memories of visiting Rome for a marathon that started and ended there, and visiting the neighbouring Forum. My god, I'm borderline obsessed.

Kids, this is life in your 40s, when your innermost thoughts are around long-gone civilisations. But I regret nothing. Now, the next step is to get the missus to talk dirty about the Egyptians... 

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