Rome and The Hunger Games

“In the backstory of The Hunger Games, modern civilization collapsed at some unspecified point in our future, and the North American nation of Panem emerged from the rubble. Seventy-four years before The Hunger Games begins, the 13 outlying districts of Panem revolted against the oppressive Capitol, but the resistance movement died out after the Capitol’s forces essentially wiped District 13 off the map. The Capitol instituted the annual Hunger Games as a perpetual reminder to the districts of the power it wields over them. Significantly, though, the decadent Capitol is also highly dependent upon the districts, from which it imports large amounts of agricultural and manufacturing products.” This backstory ties all the way back to ancient Rome. In ancient Rome, there would be gladiator fights for the entertainment of the rich, and the last gladiator standing would win the fight. Also, “The phrase “bread and circuses” was coined by the Roman satirist Juvenal in reference to the way the ruling class pacified the commoners by diverting them from contemplating their subjugation. In ancient Rome, the “bread” was distributions of grain, and the “circuses” were public games and other mass spectacles. In interviews, Suzanne Collins has admitted she was directly inspired by this bit of history in creating the world of The Hunger Games. Juvenal’s original Latin phrase, some might recall, is panem et circenses.” So, the capitol people had the panem et circenses (food, the games) which the districts provided for them. (panem=coal, electronics, agriculture; circenses=children for the games) It is also awfully ironic that the country in the Hunger Games is named Panem?


May the odds be ever in your favor