Bread and Circuses
[Earl Blacklock] The Colosseum in Rome is one of the most visited tourist sites in the world. Millions come each year to view with awe its remnants. And little wonder. Designed to seat 50 thousand people, it was an architectural masterpiece. But it had a bloody history. The arena was the place where the idle gathered to amuse themselves, and Roman society had many idle, to the extent that the state had to placate them with free food and amusement to keep them out of trouble. By the reign of Emperor Claudius (41-54 A.D.), 159 days of public holidays were in place, of which Claudius devoted 93 days to spectacles in the arenas of the empire, of which the Colosseum was chief. Juvenal, a writer of the day, said of his fellow Romans that they “now long eagerly for just two things: bread and circuses”.