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“Bread and circuses”

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

"Bread and circuses"
"Bread and circuses"

“Panem et circenses”“bread and circuses” – according to popular messages, these demanded Roman people. Those being in power were well aware of the mood of the people. The Games were a political tool and served not only as a demonstration of strength. Above all, they were meant to occupy crowds of unemployed Romans, and to provide entertainment to those who work.

When Augustus complained about the buzz coming from the performances, one of the mime actors, Pylades, was to say: “You are ungrateful, Master. Let the people kill their time with us!”. As you know, Augustus was well aware of the role of the games and the need to provide entertainment to the crowds. In “Res Gaeste Divi Augusti” Augustus gives the simplicity that, during his reign, he gave the Games four times on his behalf and 23 times as substitutes for officials who were poor or absent. The army of the unemployed (about 150, 000 in the times of Julius Caesar) and the poor, who had a lot of time, needed the attractions.

The old Roman poet Juvenal recalls the exclamation – “Panem et circenses”.

Sources
  • J. Carcopino, Widowiska, str. 202
  • Res Gaeste Divi Augusti, Gaius Iulius Octavian August, 22

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