bread and circuses

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1914 translation of the Roman poet Juvenal's Latin remark panem et circenses (bread and circuses)[1].


bread and circuses pl (plural only)

  1. Food and entertainment provided by the state.
    Synonym: bread and games
    • 22 March 2012, Scott Tobias, AV Club The Hunger Games[1]
      In movie terms, it suggests Paul Verhoeven in Robocop/Starship Troopers mode, an R-rated bloodbath where the grim spectacle of children murdering each other on television is bread-and-circuses for the age of reality TV, enforced by a totalitarian regime to keep the masses at bay.
  2. Grand spectacles to distract and pacify people.



  1. ^ Juvenal (2nd c. CE), “Satura X”, in Saturae [Satires] (in Latin), volume IV: “Duas tantum res anxius optat, Panem et circenses”

Further reading[edit]