Toronto Star | 12Jul2010 | Orest Slepokura

Cult of celebrity addictive

In the early years of Saturday Night Live, Chevy Chase played an inept, sometimes fatuous news anchor who would blithely flit from a report on “4 million die in China earthquake” to a segment on “Arlene visits the zoo.”

Today, we lump together news of the latest rant from Mel Gibson, Lindsay Lohan’s meltdown, and LeBron James updates with stories of environmental disaster, new wars brewing, and economic peril -- with the latter at times struggling to wrest away some of the attention many devote to the former. The cult of celebrity apparently brings on an addictive element, with fans requiring a daily fix.

Dostoevsky’s cynical Grand Inquisitor got it right with his insight about the masses craving “bread and circuses.” For “bread,” read the steady appeal of junk food and the resulting epidemic of obesity among young and old alike.

Orest Slepokura, Strathmore, Alta.

Bread and Circuses

[... as above ...]

Winnipeg Free Press | 29Jul2010 | David Rozniatowski

In Latin, that's...

As a member of the endangered species who, in our youth, went through what used to be called "a classical education," I am obliged to point out to Orest Slepokura (Bread and Circuses, July 17, 2010) that the use of the phrase "bread and circuses" does not originate with Dostoevsky's Grand Inquisitor. The phrase in the original Latin, "panem et circenses" was used by the Roman poet Juvenal, (AD c. 50-c.130) in his 10th Satire (line 57, if anybody gives a hoot). The complete passage, in English translation, is: "The people that once bestowed commands, consulships, legions, and all else, now concerns itself no more, and longs eagerly for just two things -- bread and circuses."

Having done my bit for classical scholarship, and with apologies for not submitting this information on a wax tablet, I shall now lumber back to my cave.

David Rozniatowski