a Roman holiday

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
References in classic literature ?
For I have written about the Coliseum, and the gladiators, the martyrs, and the lions, and yet have never once used the phrase "butchered to make a Roman holiday.
Butchered to make a Roman holiday sounds well for the first seventeen or eighteen hundred thousand times one sees it in print, but after that it begins to grow tiresome.
Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, a Canada-based hotel company, will participate in celebrating citywide Cultural Promotion of Italy in Washington, DC, US, by offering a Roman Holiday Package at the Fairmont Washington, DC, Hotel.
A Roman Holiday event at the Tolson Museum in Ravensknowle Park, Moldgreen, will feature members of the Colchester Roman Re- enactment Society.
Kids are enjoying a Roman holiday with an adventure day at Tyneside's Segedunum Fort.