Panem et circenses

In the case of politics, the Latin phrase panem et circenses (bread and circuses) is used to describe the creation of public approval, not through exemplary or excellent public service or public policy, but through diversion, distraction, and/or the mere satisfaction of the immediate, shallow requirements of a populace.

The economic crisis in Greece offers a great opportunity for politicians to demonstrate the ancient Roman wisdom but, alas, after having cut down the bread they now tamper with the circuses too.

Last Saturday, during the football match between Panathinaikos and Ergotelis at the Athens Olympic Stadium, a handful of Panathinaikos fans raised the banner in the photo on which they wrote “Politicians you are crooks, comfortably seated in the Parliament, the rebels’ wrath will drown you”. Forgive my hurried translation but it actually rhymes in Greek. Anyway, the referee decided to stop the game after the fourth referee noticed the banner, with the excuse of UEFA regulation that forbids banners with political messages. They called the fans to take it down but the fans denied.

The funny thing was that the banner annoyed the authorities so much that, after the match, policemen conducted checks in several fans’ cars and managed to find and arrest the owners of the sinful piece of cloth. Now, this would sound perfectly normal in a functioning European country but in the Greek bananaland the authorities haven’t showed an equal sensitivity when hooligans were breaking the stadium’s seats, were setting small fires in the stands or when, a couple of years ago, a fan threw a dangerous firework that amputated the finger of a security guard at the Olympic Stadium.

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