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Erroneous attribution

March 11, 2011

Dear Sir,

Whilst I do not disagree with the main thrust of the letter from “Maureen, St. David's” regarding the abuse of the tiger and the Tucker's Point SDO, I must set the record straight concerning her erroneous attribution of the “panem et circenses” (note spelling) policy to the Roman poet Juvenal.

The practice of bribing the electorate by offering free entertainment (circenses), often including the gratuitous abuse and slaughter of animals, was well established in the Roman republic and was taken over on a grand scale by the emperors. They also kept the masses happy by offering free grain (to make bread, panem) so that they would not starve in times of hardship and riot against their rulers.

The Roman satirist Decimus Iunius Iuvenalis (Juvenal), writing in the early second century A.D. to criticise the decadence of his age, stated: “The people who once conferred military power, consulships, command of legions, everything, now restrains itself and anxiously desires only two things, bread and games (panem et circenses).”

Good for Juvenal, encapsulating the argument in a pithy and memorable statement, but he cannot be blamed for instigating the practice!

Vale (farewell) . . . or was Maureen being sarcastic when she signed off with “Salve” (“Hello?”) ?


St. David'

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Published March 31, 2011 at 9:52 am (Updated March 31, 2011 at 9:52 am)

Erroneous attribution

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