The Roman Empire declined and is now no more than history. Their fate is instructive; let us not be seduced by "Bread and Circuses":
This phrase originates in Satire X of the Roman poet Juvenal (circa 100 AD ). In context, the Latin phrase panis et circenses (bread and circuses) is given as the only remaining cares of a Roman populace which has given up its birthright of political involvement. Here Juvenal displays his contempt for the declining heroism of his contemporary Romans:… Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the People have abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions — everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circusesJuvenal here makes reference to the Roman practice of providing free wheat to Roman citizens as well as costly circus games and other forms of entertainment as a means of gaining political power through populism. The Annona (grain dole) was begun under the instigation of the popularis politician Gaius Sempronius Gracchus in 123 BC; it remained an object of political contention until it was taken under the control of the Roman emperors.
Spanish intellectuals between the 19th and 20th centuries complained about the similar pan y toros ("bread and bullfights"). It appears similarly in Russian as хлеба и зрелищ ("bread and spectacle").
Aldous Huxley used the phrase in Brave New World Revisited as an example of one of the ideas he used as a theme in Brave New World.