Definitions for bread and circuses
Random House Webster's College Dictionary
bread′ and cir′cuses(n.pl.)
something offered so as to pacify discontent or divert attention from a grievance.
Category: Common Vocabulary
Origin of bread and circuses:
trans. of L pānis et circēnsēs; from a remark by Juvenal on the limited desires of the Roman populace
bread and circuses(Noun)
Food and entertainment provided by the state.
Origin: 1914 translation of the Roman poet Juvenal's remark panem et circenses. ("Duas tantum res anxius optat, Panem et circenses" )
Bread and circuses
"Bread and Circuses" is a metaphor for a superficial means of appeasement. In the case of politics, the phrase is used to describe the creation of public approval, not through exemplary or excellent public service or public policy, but through diversion; distraction; or the mere satisfaction of the immediate, shallow requirements of a populace, as an offered "palliative." Juvenal decried it as a simplistic motivation of common people. The phrase also implies the erosion or ignorance of civic duty amongst the concerns of the common man. In modern usage, the phrase is taken to describe a populace that no longer values civic virtues and the public life. To many across the political spectrum, left and right, it connotes a supposed triviality and frivolity that characterized the Roman Republic prior to its decline into the autocratic monarchy characteristic of the later Roman Empire's transformation about 44 B.C.
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"bread and circuses." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2013. Web. 5 Dec. 2013. <http://www.definitions.net/definition/bread and circuses>.