Star Trek (1966–1969)
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Bread and Circuses 

The Enterprise crew investigates the disappearance of a ship's crew on a planet that is a modern version of the Roman Empire.



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Episode complete credited cast:
Logan Ramsey ...
William Bramley ...
Rhodes Reason ...
Bart La Rue ...
Announcer (as Bart Larue)
Master of Games
Max Kleven ...
Lois Jewell ...


While searching for the crew of a destroyed spaceship, the Enterprise discovers a planet whose oppressive government is a 20th-century version of Earth's Roman Empire. Kirk, Spock and McCoy meet the rebels, seemingly sun worshipers, but are soon thereafter apprehended by the regime. The missing Captain Merik is revealed as the "First Citizen" and a pawn of the regime, but he and the rebels ultimately help Kirk and company to escape. Back on the Enterprise, Uhura observes that the crew's understanding of the rebels as sun worshipers was not completely accurate. Written by MGR

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Release Date:

15 March 1968 (USA)  »

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The title "Bread and circuses" is a translation of "Panem et circenses", an ancient Roman metaphor for people choosing food and fun over freedom. It first appears around AD 100 in the Satires of Juvenal, which also provided the title of another Star Trek production about 20 years later: Star Trek: The Next Generation: Who Watches the Watchers (1989). See more »


During the first fight in the arena, Flavius is struck twice, vigorously, by a bull whip, and yet on subsequent shots from Flavius' rear, there's no evidence of any kind of wound whatsoever on his back, which there surely would have been. See more »


Claudius Marcus: You're a Roman, Kirk, or you should have been.
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Referenced in Star Trek (2009) See more »

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User Reviews

Points of reference
23 September 2012 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

Watching this particular episode of the original Star Trek I was put in mind of the fact the later shows were so much better plotted even to the point of creating a whole geopolitical system within the galaxy that the Federation operated. Apparently late Sixties viewers needed points of reference from earth history in some episodes so in this case we are dealing with a Roman society now updated to approximately the earth's 20th century.

Only in this Star Trek episode there is no excuse about some Earth person interfering with the culture of the planet. In fact the opposite has occurred. William Smithers was made an offer he couldn't refuse and beamed down his crew. Some adapted, some were put into the gladiatorial arena which is now televised like Monday Night Football.

The best character in this episode is Logan Ramsey playing the Roman pro-consul Claudius. He's well aware of what contact with other cultures will do to his privileged position in that society and when Kirk, McCoy, and Spock are brought to him as prisoners when they land, he tantalizes them with their dilemma about Star Fleet's prime directive.

How that dilemma is solved is the crux of the episode. Still in later incarnations of Star Trek much fewer episodes were made that needed an earth point of reference.

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