30 user 8 critic

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.


Ralph Senensky


Gene Roddenberry (created by), Gene Roddenberry | 1 more credit »




Episode complete credited cast:
William Shatner ... Capt. Kirk
Leonard Nimoy ... Mr. Spock
DeForest Kelley ... Dr. McCoy
William Smithers ... Merik
Logan Ramsey ... Claudius Marcus
Ian Wolfe ... Septimus
William Bramley William Bramley ... Policeman
Rhodes Reason ... Flavius
James Doohan ... Scott
Nichelle Nichols ... Uhura
Walter Koenig ... Chekov
Bart La Rue Bart La Rue ... Announcer (as Bart Larue)
Jack Perkins ... Master of Games
Max Kleven Max Kleven ... Maximus
Lois Jewell Lois Jewell ... Drusilla


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

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


TV-PG | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


The DVD and earlier VHS editions of this episode contain what is probably the best McCoy/Spock dialogue of the series, which was always edited out in syndication. See more »


When Spock is straining at the jail cell door his face flushes red. As Spock is Vulcan and has a copper based hemoglobin his face would flush green rather than red. See more »


Claudius Marcus: And you, Captain, er, which world do you prefer?
Capt. Kirk: My world, Proconsul, is my vessel, my oath, my crew.
See more »

Alternate Versions

Special Enhanced version Digitally Remastered with new exterior shots and remade opening theme song See more »


Referenced in Muppets Tonight: Andie MacDowell (1998) See more »


Music credited to Alexander Courage, although it strongly resembles the main title music for 'Hollow Triumph (1948)' by Sol Kaplan
Sung by Loulie Jean Norman
See more »

User Reviews

If Rome had lasted to 1968...
27 April 2013 | by XweAponXSee all my reviews

...It would not have looked like it did in this episode.

First off, Deep Space Nine was the best of the 90's Trek Spin-offs- And the only one to do The Original Series homage with the great "Trials and Tribbleations" episode from Season 5. Another thing I have to refute right away is the concept that science and religion are somehow at odds and that a civilization with Spaceflight would discard Faith: Not Religion per say, but Faith. If I do not have any problems in my mind with my own Faith in regards to theories like Evolution and The Big Bang which I also believe in as much as I believe in God or Jesus, then there will be more people like me who will start agreeing that if God exists, He does not break His own laws of Physics and He does not Snap His fingers or Play with Dice when He creates something, instead He would plan it out scientifically and He would follow the Laws of the Universe He had laid out. It is a new Mindset that has to be reached by both people who are religious, and scientists as well- There has to be an eventual meeting of the two or else there will never really be any huge breakthroughs, especially in a possible future that is anything like Gene Roddenberry's vision of The Federation.

The problem with stories like this and not just this story, but the idea that Rome was somehow "Evil" and Barbaric, is due to mostly Catholic Teaching, the same Catholic Teaching I was raised into. But this teaching it is false as I will explain here.

Think about it - What happened when the Goths - Not the same Goths that hang out in Nightclubs and listen to the bands "Bauhaus" and "Specimen," but real Barbarians who were great at fighting but terrible with Administration- Knocked down Rome and tried to Administrate it? What actually did happen was that they failed and they themselves entered Oblivion, and we ended up with several centuries of The Dark Ages which was the result of Religion but no Science. The same could happen if there were an era of Science but No Faith.

And so this Trek episode shows a Parallel Earth which had developed along the lines of our earth, but that Rome had not been knocked down. What was not considered in this story is that if Rome had continued in the direction it was going, it would have been a Catholic State, rather than a Pagan state, because it's final leaders were religious.

But let's say that Jesus came even on That earth, which He must have done there as well as Here, and at the same time He appeared Here. He never called for any bloody revolutions, His aim was Peace. He never backed up anybody who was fighting the government of that time, which was Rome, and he actually had harsher words for Hypocritical Priests of His own religion then He had for the Governors of Jerusalem at the time.

The Roman State from this episode, also does not take into account that even The United States was just as barbaric but social developments would have happened there as well, a state like Rome would have eventually developed socially to be more like the United States, and slavery and Gladiators would have been abolished.

So, this episode has many flaws, mostly due to the thinking of the time and also what was allowed on Television in 1967 and 1968. Despite that, I hold this episode as special to myself, because of my own personal Faith, and this was the only time in The Original Series where my Faith was saluted. In the 60's, you could not use blatant references to religion like can happen with Today's television, and possibly the word "Jesus" was a network taboo. And so Gene Roddenberry went behind the backs of all of those taboos and brought us this episode, it really is one of the best of Season 2, and mostly it is less about Faith than about breaking The Prime Directive - For any reason. And so I blame "The Fall of The Roman Empire" in this episode on Captain Merrick (William Smithers) and his blatant defiling of The Prime Directive - Not on Slaves staging a religious revolt. This episode shows the ultimate tragedy of not adhering to Starfleet's number one rule - a Whole world government was taken down and a bloody revolution was begun resulting in a possible Dark Ages for that planet.

But there was one shining moment in this episode and that was when "Mericus" finally came to his senses: he knew what would happen and he did it anyway, which showed a level of bravery.

This episode got away with social commentary because they didn't blatantly name religious figures or religions. "Son" worshipers and we assumed "Sun", how wrong where are we?

I originally saw this on the date that it was first broadcast, and being raised in a Catholic family definitely caused a reaction around the TV set that night.

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Greek | English

Release Date:

15 March 1968 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono | Dolby Digital (re-mastered version)| DTS (re-mastered version)


Color | Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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