bread-circuses

bread and circuses

noun
something, as extravagant entertainment, offered as an expedient means of pacifying discontent or diverting attention from a source of grievance.

Origin:
1910–15; translation of Latin pānis et circēnsēs; from a remark by the Roman satirist Juvenal on the limited desires of the Roman populace

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Cultural Dictionary

bread and circuses definition


A phrase used by a Roman writer to deplore the declining heroism of Romans after the Roman Republic ceased to exist and the Roman Empire began: “Two things only the people anxiously desire — bread and circuses.” The government kept the Roman populace happy by distributing free food and staging huge spectacles. (See Colosseum.)

Note: “Bread and circuses” has become a convenient general term for government policies that seek short-term solutions to public unrest.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
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