Zapiro writes:

"Panem et circenses" is the best phrase I know to describe populist spectacles, though it’s slightly risky to use as old Latin sayings are not in everyone’s frame of reference. When the ANC marched on the Goodman Gallery and went to court—both actions after The Spear was vandalised—to force its removal from the exhibition and from the City Press website, I saw this as populist grandstanding.

WIKIPEDIA explains: "Bread and Circuses" (or bread and games) (from Latin: panem et circenses) is a metaphor for a superficial means of appeasement. In the case of politics, the phrase is used to describe the creation of public approval, not through exemplary or excellent public service or public policy, but through diversion; distraction; or the mere satisfaction of the immediate, shallow requirements of a populace, as an offered "palliative."

(The phrase originates from a satire by Roman satirist and poet) Juvenal(who) decried it as a simplistic motivation of common people. The phrase also implies the erosion or ignorance of civic duty amongst the concerns of the common man. In modern usage, the phrase is taken to describe a populace that no longer values civic virtues and the public life. To many across the political spectrum, left and right, it connotes a supposed triviality and frivolity that characterized the Roman Republic prior to its decline into the autocratic monarchy characteristic of the later Roman Empire's transformation about 44 B.C.



Born in Cape Town in 1958, Zapiro couldn’t imagine a career in cartooning, so he studied architecture at University of Cape Town.

Couldn’t imagine a career in architecture, so…>

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© Zapiro | May 24, 2012 | Mail & Guardian


THIS CARTOON WAS RANKED AMONGST THE M&G's 10 Most Popular ZAPIRO Cartoons of 2012. See his note in the Sidelines column above.