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The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

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Roman Empire piques interest in teen boys due to relevance, modern connection

A+student+grabs+a+book+about+the+Roman+Empire+in+the+library.+Many+teenage+boys+are+interested+in+video+games+and+sports%2C+but+surprisingly+the+Roman+Empire+is+another+topic+that+catches+their+interest+because+the+similarities+between+ancient+Rome+and+today%E2%80%99s+world+make+it+relevant+and+exciting.
Hayla Shah
A student grabs a book about the Roman Empire in the library. Many teenage boys are interested in video games and sports, but surprisingly the Roman Empire is another topic that catches their interest because the similarities between ancient Rome and today’s world make it relevant and exciting.

In the busy room of Isaac Berrueta’s ninth grade history class, a girl is speaking to a friend sitting next to her, both of their heads bent over their notebooks. One of them briefly mentions the Roman Empire. A loud chorus of “I love the Roman Empire,” and “Me too!” erupts from the boys in the class, as they all nod in agreement and list facts to display their knowledge. 

Some girls in the class share glances, surprised at the reaction to the Roman Empire.

Many teenage boys are interested in video games and sports, but surprisingly the Roman Empire is another topic that catches their interest because the similarities between ancient Rome and today’s world make it relevant and exciting.

Ninth grader Sofia Schwartz believes that teenage girls take less of an interest in ancient Rome primarily because of the male-centered society that was prominent in ancient Rome, and because women are not represented in media about ancient Rome as much as men are. 

The Roman Empire is less relevant and relatable to teenage girls.

“Rome was a very patriarchal society, so women don’t see themselves reflected in it as much as men do,” Sofia said.

So, what makes it so interesting to teenage boys?

Ninth grader Suleiman Sufi said, “Once you learn about something like that, you can’t get it out of your head.”

History teacher Isaac Berrueta can see why young people take interest in the Roman Empire.

He said, “Although the Roman Empire began over 2,000 years ago, you can make a lot of parallels between the Roman Empire and the United States.” 

Mr. Berrueta said the United States government evolved from the Roman government, which is a similarity that makes the Roman Empire interesting and relevant to teens today.

Ninth grader Bryce Poston thinks the similarities between the Roman Empire and today’s world make ancient Rome interesting.

Bryce said, “It really gave way to a lot of things in today’s world. A lot of stuff today wouldn’t have happened without the Roman Empire.” 

Suleiman also finds the clear influence between the Roman Empire and modern Western civilization interesting.

“It’s just very cool to learn about how it influences everything today,” Suleiman said. 

Bryce said his interest in the Roman Empire was sparked by a show he watched when he was younger. There are many portrayals of the Roman Empire in the media, and these portrayals can have both positive and negative impacts. 

Mr. Berrueta said as a possible result of the portrayals in the media, the Roman Empire has been used by right wing extremists to defend white supremacy. He believes this recent interest in the Roman Empire may be coming partially from there, which is a negative impact according to Mr. Berrueta

However, a positive impact is that media about the Roman Empire can often grab the attention of young people and inspire them to learn more about history. 

A part of what makes the Roman Empire appealing to teens is how powerful and successful it was. Bryce said his favorite thing about the Roman Empire is how the Romans conquered so much land in a short amount of time, as well as all the inventions they created. 

“I think the Roman Empire was a very powerful piece of history,” Bryce said.

Mr. Berrueta said that the complexity and sophistication of their society was impressive.

“I think it’s fascinating how this group of people were able to conquer most of Western Europe and manage it,” Mr. Berrueta said.

It is very intertwined with Western society today, which adds to its appeal to teens.

Suleiman said, “What happened in the past makes us who we are today.”

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About the Contributors
Mira Reddy, Reporter
Hayla Shah, Photographer
Hayla Shah is a beginning photojournalist and a member of the Class of 2026. Outside of photojournalism, Hayla swims and runs track for U-High, plays piano and loves to read. 

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