why did the ancient roman government begin the bread and circuses program to keep the poor fed and entertained?
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Most of the common people in Rome - the Plebeians - were unemployed;the expansion of the empire meant that there had been a vast influx of slaves that did all the menial work.
If your people are fed and entertained then they are less likely to revolt or rebel. A happy person is a content person.
Unemployed people have little money and few prospects,and lots of time on their hands,things that can lead to serious social disorder.The ancient world lacked proper police forces,riot police,water cannon, tear gas and all the things associated in the modern world with dealing with mass public disorder.The mob in ancient Rome was thus a dangerous thing.For example following the assassination of Julius Caesar,rioters went on the rampage and forced the conspirators responsible and their families to flee Rome.
So,emperors expanded an existing system of free bread handouts to male citizens in Rome,and built arenas (the Colosseum and the Circus Maximus) to put on shows so as to give the unemployed plebeians something to do and to dsitract them from the fact that they were unemployed and likely to remain so indefinitely,and that this was a direct result of imperial policy