Anonymous asked in Education & ReferenceQuotations · 1 decade ago

What does the phrase "bread and circus" mean?

When referring to the success of Ancient Rome what does it mean when you say "Bread and circus" is the only way to understand what truly happened..?

7 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
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    "Bread and circuses" is a phrase that can criticize either government policies to pacify the citizenry, or the shallow, decadent desires of that same citizenry. In both cases, it refers to low-cost, low-quality, high-availability food and entertainment that have become the sole concern of the People, to the exclusion of matters that some consider more important: e.g. the Arts, public works projects, human rights, or democracy itself. The phrase is commonly used to refer to short-term government palliatives offered in place of a solution for significant, long-term problems.

    This phrase originates in Satire X of the Roman poet Juvenal of the late 1st and early 2nd centuries. In context, the Latin phrase panem et circenses (bread and circuses) is given as the only remaining cares of a Roman populace which has given up its birthright of political freedom:

    ... Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man,

    the People have abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time

    handed out military command, high civil office, legions - everything, now

    restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things:

    bread and circuses

    Juvenal here makes reference to the elite Roman practice of providing free wheat to some poor Romans as well as costly circus games and other forms of entertainment as a means of gaining political power through popularity. The Annona (grain dole) was begun under the instigation of the populist Gracchi in 123 BC; it remained an object of political contention until it was taken under the control of the Roman emperors.

    A reference in the The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy (1993) states that Juvenal displayed his contempt for the declining heroism of his contemporary Romans in this passage. Spanish intellectuals between the 19th and 20th centuries complained about the similar pan y toros ("bread and bullfights").

  • 5 years ago


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    5 years ago

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    What does the phrase "bread and circus" mean?

    When referring to the success of Ancient Rome what does it mean when you say "Bread and circus" is the only way to understand what truly happened..?

    Source(s): phrase quot bread circus quot mean:
  • 1 decade ago

    The phrase come from Latin 'panem et circenses' which would be better translated as 'bread and games'. 'Games' is to denote here the kind of spectacles shown in the movie 'Gladiator'. The idea behind the expression is that the political powers in Rome knew how they could get the approval of the masses, the common people,by providing them with entertainment and vital economic resources 'bread'.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Also called "the circus and the dole", it refers to the practice of providing entertainment and welfare to the citizens. It's often used to illustrate the decline and fall of the Roman Empire as these practices were said to weaken the citizenry to the point where they weren't able to take care of themselves and the invading hordes met with less and less resistance over time.

  • sather
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    Bread And Circuses

  • Anonymous
    5 years ago

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    You cannot talk with a Jehovah's Witness about the condition of the dead, without their bringing up Ecclesiastes 9:5. They are taught to use this verse to prove that the Bible supports the idea that the dead know nothing at all. In the 1985 book, "Reasoning From the Scriptures", on page 100, under the Heading "What Is the Condition of the Dead?", Ecclesiastes 9:5 is quoted as follows: “The living are conscious that they will die; but as for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all.” (NWT) This certainly seems, if we are to take this verse literally, to prove that the dead have no conscious existence. Ask a Jehovah's Witness what the rest of Ecclesiastes 9:5 says. Most will not be able to tell you. The Watchtower is repeatedly quoting this verse and finishing it partway with a period and quotation mark (.”), instead of showing with an ellipse and quotation mark (...") that there is more to the verse. This is a misleading and dishonest way of printing Scripture. Let's take a look at Ecclesiastes 9:5 from the King James Version. "For the living know that they shall die; but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten." If the Watchtower teaches from this verse that the dead are not conscious of anything, it must also teach as truth what the rest of this verse says, that the dead have no more a reward and the memory of them is forgotten. Does the Watchtower teach that Ecclesiates 9:5 is a literal verse, to be taken as truth? So, what does Ecclesiastes 9:5 teach? If we take it literally, the dead are unconscious and will never find a reward or be remembered. The Watchtower teaches that the first half of this verse is literal, but that the second half "is not the case." Perhaps we should look at the context of this passage. If we back up to verse 3, same chapter, we find: "This is an evil among all things that are done under the sun, that there is one event unto all..." (KJV) If we keep it in context, we find that the writer is talking about events that happen while we are alive, here on earth, "under the sun"! This can be better shown by comparing Ecclesiastes 9:5 with other verses of the Bible: IS THIS TRUE? “neither have they any more a reward”. Jesus said, "For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then shall he reward every man according to his works." (Matthew 16:27, KJV) IS THIS TRUE? “for the memory of them is forgotten”. Jesus said' "But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living." (Matthew 22:31,32, KJV) IS THIS TRUE? “they are conscious of nothing at all”. Moses (who died at the age of 120 years and was buried by God - see Deuteronomy 34:7) and Elijah (who never died but was taken up by a whirlwind into heaven – see 2 Kings 2:11), were both seen with Jesus in the transfiguration by three of Jesus' disciples. "And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him." (Matthew 17:1-3, KJV) Indeed it seems, because of this comment from Peter in Matthew 17:4, as if the disciples had seen Elijah and Moses with their own eyes and had recognized them: "Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.” (KJV) Were Moses and Elijah "conscious of nothing at all"? The great hope is to be with Christ at death, not to be dead and conscious of nothing at all. What did the first martyr, Stephen, see and say as he was stoned to death? Acts 7:55, 56: "But he (Stephen), being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God." (KJV) Acts 7:59: “And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." (KJV) What was the great hope of Paul, who as Saul had witnessed the stoning of Stephen? Philippians 1:21, 23: "For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." "For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:” (KJV) 2 Corinthians 5:6-8: "Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” (KJV) We must be very careful what we teach as truth from the book of Ecclesiastes. The writer of the book is identified in chapter 1, verse 1, as the son of David, king in Jerusalem. This was Solomon. Page 44 of the Watchtower Society's 1950 booklet, "Evolution versus the New World" identifies Solomon as the writer of Ecclesiastes. The theme of the book is identified in the second verse of chapter one, "vanity of vanities; all is vanity." Solomon is showing what a life and all its accomplishments are without God; it is hardly a life to pattern our lives after. Better we should pattern our lives after Paul, who had a desire "to be with Christ; which is far better.

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