We have just had Open House week-end in London and Tory Historian tried to visit a new place or two. Only one new place was managed: the fascinating and gorgeous Apothecaries' Hall.

Time was short so the second visit was to the Guildhall and the Roman Amphitheatre beneath the Art Gallery, both thoroughly recommended.

Naturally, there was a good deal of explanation of what the amphitheatre was used for and how it fitted in with Roman British life. Interestingly, the actual amphitheatres across the Roman empire were built out of public funds but the entertainment in them (if you can call events that involved the slaughter of hundreds of people and animals entertainment) was provided by rich nobles or even by the Emperor, especially in Rome itself. This was a way of bribing the populace, bread and circuses (panem et circenses) being a great Roman invention, much in use to this day.

Tory Historian, naturally, thought of the bread and circuses that were provided this summer by way of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, both descendants of certain ancient entertainments. There is, however, a great difference: they are still bribes to keep the populace happy but these days the bribes are paid for by the populace. They bribe us, thought TH, with our own money. In the case of those Games with our children's money as well.


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