Friday, April 4, 2014

Panem et circenses - Bread and Circuses

Panem et circensesBread and circuses.
Juvenal,
Satires 10.80-81


This Latin quote refers to the practice of the government in providing to the masses free bread rations and entertainment in the form of chariot races (a circus originally refers to the circuit around which a race happens). This practice was intended to distract the common person from dwelling too much on their horrible lot in life (which might lead them to revolt against the powers that be).

Today, the phrase "Bread and Circuses" refers to any attempt by a politician to pander to the people. (The verb "to pander" has only a chance similarity with the Latin word panis, bread.)



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