Despite the 1,500 years since the Roman Empire fell, the rule of Caesar continues to show up in our popular culture – movies and TV. (More about that in a moment).

And the question is, why? Old Rome was a dictatorship, right? So, what's the attraction? Screen fans are not alone in this.

The art world also looks fondly at Imperial Rome. A new exhibit of sculpture by Mattia Bosco has even been installed where the Empire once lived: the Colosseum Archeological Park in Rome.

And to ensure that you're thinking of the ancient empire, Mattia's work can be seen in the Temple of Venus and the Roman Forum.

Wait, there's more. Old Rome doesn't just show up in film and fine arts. Politics has gone for it in a big way. Consider the GOP's "Red Caesar."

The Lure of Imperial Rome

The Guardian identifies "Red Caesar" as a rightwing code for autocracy that a growing number of Republicans are glomming onto. And according to one historian, this shouldn't be surprising.

The British Daily quotes Damon Linker, a senior lecturer at Penn State's Political Science department, this way:

"Thirty years ago, if I told you that a bunch of billionaires and intellectuals on the right are waiting in the wings to impose a dictatorship on the United States, you would have said that I was insane."

You don't have to be a political scientist to know Americans are infatuated with the Roman Empire.

How else to explain the slew of movies about it – Caligula, Pompeii, Cleopatra, Centurion, Gladiator, Ben Hur, Barabbas, Spartacus, Julius Caesar, to name a few. Heck, the Gladiator won five Academy Awards!

"Red Caesar" rule for the U.S. may seem far-fetched, but in the minds of those who blame liberalism and democratic ideals for the country's problems, an authoritarian rule is the easy solution.

Democracy, according to the "Red Caesar" crowd, means equal rights, voting rights, and women's rights. Imposing a dictatorship would make all that go away.

The Remaking of America

Gerrymandering the hell out of Blue states is part of the "Red Caesar" agenda. But given our enthusiasm for Imperialism on screen and in exhibit halls, how much is that idea of America shared?

How many Americans, for instance, worry about the book banning to keep classrooms free of Black history and the reality of homosexuality? Or are we just taken in by Hollywood's glamorized version of Rome's good old days?

It won't be long if we are as innocent as all that. The downside to "Caesarism" is starting to show. White supremacist militia groups are now showing up at public events armed with assault rifles strapped to their backs - presumably to intimidate those of us who need intimidation.

Donald Trump fits right in with the "Red Caesar" crowd. As he has freely announced if he gets back into the White House, he will lock up his enemies – the Democrats, judges and prosecutors who have faulted him.

The only thing missing is the Nazi flag.

Silly talk? Not when you remember that Trump tried to overturn Joe Biden's election. Or when an industrialist like Charles Haywood backs Trump. He told The Guardian reporter Jason Wilson why he's attracted to "Red Caesar": "'Caesarism' is a natural, realism-based system under which a civilization can flourish." Clearly, he's seen too many Roman Empire movies.

Speak of the Caesar flicks; one wonders why advocates of "Red Caesar" make the ancient emperor their hero. Have they forgotten that most of his allies planned to betray him?

Or is having an American emperor attractive because that would let us off the hook of citizenship to go party? Just asking.