5 Valentine Gifts for the Person in Your Life Who Still Thinks About the Roman Empire a Lot

| Mon, 02/12/2024 - 07:30
Close up of Trajan's Column

If you’re bewildered by captions and memes across social media that say some version of “This is my Roman Empire” or “Fill-in-the-blank is my Roman Empire” — to mean “something I think about a lot” — you may need a little refresher on one of last year’s biggest TikTok trends.

Back in September, “legions” of users of the short-form video app were asking their significant others how often they thought about ancient Rome, after encouragement from the Swedish influencer and “Roman reenactor” Artur Hulu (aka Gaius Flavius), who slingshotted the trend into being.

The 32-year-old’s proposal: “Ladies, many of you do not realize how often men think about the Roman Empire. Ask your husband/boyfriend/father/brother — you will be surprised by their answers!”

Quite a lot” was the resounding answer across the thousands of videos that surfaced in response, featuring mostly women asking their male partners about the frequency of their ancient-Rome ruminations. 

But no reports have been made on just how many ancient Rome buffs remained once the trend tapered off. While the viral video craze du jour has run its course, we’re convinced some real ancient Rome aficionados are still out there and looking for new stimuli.

Plenty of lady Rome-niks, too, still reflect on the colossal ancient power. And why not? During Roman times there were female gladiators, empresses, priestesses, woman warriors and even a Vestal Virgin who gave birth to Romulus and Remus, the founders of the city of Rome.

So no matter their gender, if your lover spends time contemplating centurians, pondering patricians and plebeians, or turning up at parties in a toga, they’ll get a kick out of these Roman-themed gift ideas for February 14.

For the Caesar-curious

Photo: Conner Edson / Etsy
Photo: Conner Edson / Etsy

A replica of Andrea Ferruci’s famous bust of everyone’s favorite emperor, this cool Ides of March Julius Caesar Bust Pen/Pencil Holder allows your beloved to play backstabbing Brutus and declutter their desk at the same time. Made with a 3D printer using “marble-ous” PLA (Polylactic Acid), it comes with the iconic Medusa breastplate and 14 “stabs” or holes (there wasn’t room for the historically accurate 23). The base of the statuette is engraved with the Latin phrase, “Et Tu, Brute?”, which Shakespeare imagined the dying dictator uttering in the moment he realized his friend was among his assassins.

For the one with a competitive streak

Photo: History Games / Etsy

Between chariot races, wrestling and sackings, Romans needed to unwind and chill just like the rest of us. History Games has created a series of handmade reproductions of Roman strategy games that two lovers/players can get really worked up over. Archaeologists discovered many of these ancient game boards scratched on amphitheaters and floors of public buildings. Choose from Terni Lapilli, a predecessor to Tic-Tac-Toe, Tria, an expanded version of Terni Lapilli but with nine pieces instead of three, and Ludus Larunculorum: a game that cosplays the clash between two armies. It’s considered the ancestor of chess. Rounding out the collection are Duodecim Scripta and Tabula, both predecessors of modern backgammon. View the full e-shop here.

For the creative softie

Roman crochet kit
Photo: British Museum Shop

If your favorite Romanophile likes to work with their hands, give them the gift of creativity with this Roman legionnaire crochet kit. Exclusively designed to promote The British Museum’s exhibition Legion: life in the Roman army, which is ongoing until June 2024, the complete set comes with a crochet hook, needle, yarn, wadding, a stitch-marker and a pair of safety eyes. It’s everything one needs to create a huggable Roman soldier. 

For the charismatic charmer

museum shop snake bracelet
Photo: Museum Shop

An exact replica of a flashy accessory found during excavations of Pompeii, this double-headed snake ring’s inspiration dates back to the 1st century BCE. Throughout the Roman epochs, the image of a two-headed serpent is said to have represented rebirth, transformation, immortality, and healing, as well portend fertility and sexuality (for the occasion, you might want to lean into the latter interpretation). The produced-in-Italy ring can be purchased online through The Museum Shop’s website or at one of their three locations: Naples International Airport, Largo Corpo di Napoli 2 in Naples’ historic city center, and at the Maritime Station in Port of Naples cruise terminal.

For the one who likes unwinding around the “domus”

Photo: Togas
Photo: Togas

We admit that this Art Line Bathrobe isn’t a Roman toga, exactly — it’s more of a cozy and warm velour wraparound housecoat that happens to have the brand name “Togas” embroidered on the pocket — but we’re including it anyway. A classic cut with a wide belt and large hood, the dressing gown is made of natural, high-quality combed cotton. It costs a pretty denarius at $333 (€309), but hey, isn’t the Antony to your Cleopatra worth it?