07 February 2010

Panem et circensis

Pollice Verso (Thumbs Down) by Jean-Léon Gérôme, 1872

… iam pridem, ex quo suffragia nulli uendimus, effudit curas; nam qui dabat olim imperium, fasces, legiones, omnia, nunc se continet atque duas tantum res anxius optat, panem et circenses.

… 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, Satire 10.77–81, 100 A.D.)

Happy Superbowl Sunday kids!


  1. I'm sure the collusium was more entertaining than today's superbowl though :P

  2. I'll say. It was a whole-day event and it was free. They also fed you AND got you drunk. There was no pretense of it somehow being civilized and dignified either. I've been reading Juvenal's Satires on and off all day. I love that line about bread and circuses, it's so incredibly true. Even after 2000 years, it still rings true.

  3. I don't pretend that our modern culture is "civilized" at all though :)

  4. But you know what, one of the opening acts at the Colosseum every morning was the release of a starving, freaking out monkey into the stands. The monkey would leap from hapless spectator to hapless spectator. It would bit and scratch and on a good morning it would gouge out an eye or two before someone stomped it to death. Now that's what I call a fitting past time for an empire. If we're going to collapse in a pile of rubble a la Rome, Byzantium, The Holy Roman Empire, Spain, Portugal, Holland, Belgium, France, England and every other empire; can we bring back the monkey in the stands?

  5. Um.. isn't that what Glen Beck is for?

  6. He gouges out eyes rhetorically. I'm looking for the real thing.


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