Oddly Specific: Bread and Circuses

Sorry for the lack of production today … computer doing weird things. Along the way, though, I came across a garbage editorial which said the following, which ultimately comes from the Wikipedia article on Bread and Circuses — and, of course, this particular claim has no footnote.

Roman politicians devised a plan in 140 B.C.E. to win the votes of these new citizens: giving out cheap food and entertainment, “bread and circuses”, would be the most effective way to rise to power.

Oddly, the 140 B.C. date hasn’t even come up in the ‘talk’ section for the page. Can anyone come up with an event that could be vaguely tied to having Roman politicians sitting around Life-of-Brian-like thinking, “Well, then, how are we going to win the votes of new citizens?”


“I doubt they’d go for just bread … would probably have to be sandwiches”

“But who’s going to make all these sandwiches?”

“Maybe we should just give them a show or something”

“A show! What a great idea!”

“… but they’ll probably want to eat at the show too …”

“Okay then, we’ll give them a show and some snacks.”

“Well it can’t just be a handout … why don’t they bring their own snacks?”

“Hmmm … what if we supply the bread, and they supply the filling?”

“That works! Shows and Sandwiches for the win!”

” Doesn’t quite have a ring, does it …”

“Rings? Let’s give them a circus!

“Sandwiches and Circuses”

“But we’re only supplying the Bread …”

“Bread and Circuses!”

… sorry.

One thought on “Oddly Specific: Bread and Circuses

  1. I think that the editor of the wikipedia article was trying
    to link the falls of Corinth/Carthage in 146 BC to the Gracchi in
    the 130’s-120’s to Roman moral decline and love of “bread and
    circuses” of Juvenal but couldn’t be bothered to spend more than 5
    minutes in research and thus used a random, closish date and
    unnamed politicians.

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