Bread and Circuses
The term "bread and circuses" is used to describe efforts by those in power to retain the favor of the masses (sometimes referred to as the mob, see Democracy), or the common man, by bribing and distracting them with free gifts and amusements. In ancient Rome, the Roman people were offered free food and various games and activities at the Colosseum and through other means as a way to distract and curry favor.
This concept of offering free things and fun distractions, along with a number of other corruptions of the Roman world, in part, led to the downfall of the Roman Empire.
The History of Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon
The Satires by Juvenal
“Juvenal [in The Satires] said that the Romans, once rulers of the world, had come to care for nothing but handouts and spectacles, and panem et circenses was the favorite formula for Roman leaders who wanted to keep the allegiance of the masses.”
"But what of the Roman Mob? They follow Fortune, as always, and hate whoever she Condemns. If Nortia, as the Etruscans called her, had favoured Etruscan Sejanus; if the old Emperor had been surreptitiously Smothered; that same crowd in a moment would have hailed Their new Augustus. They shed their sense of responsibility Long ago, when they lost their votes, and the bribes; the mob That used to grant power, high office, the legions, everything, Curtails its desires, and reveals its anxiety for two things only, bread and circuses." (read full text The Satires)