Roman holiday


Also found in: Dictionary, Wikipedia.

Roman holiday

An entertaining event, affair, or activity that relies on the exploitation, suffering, or failure of others. A metaphor taken from Lord Byron's poem Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, which refers to the practice of having gladiators fight to the death for the amusement of spectators. I think tabloids exist and flourish as a means of providing people with miniature Roman holidays. Being able to see celebrities at their absolute worst gives us a perverse feeling of satisfaction. I'll never understand the allure of boxing, watching two people beat each other half to death like we're on some sort of Roman holiday.
See also: holiday, roman

a Roman holiday

an occasion on which enjoyment or profit is derived from the suffering or discomfort of others.
This expression comes from the poet Byron's description of the dying gladiator in Childe Harold's Pilgrimage as having been ‘butchered to make a Roman holiday’.
See also: holiday, roman