Have you ever noticed that The Hunger Games was very similar to Roman history? Suzanne Collins, the author of The Hunger Games, was born on August 10, 1962. She was a children’s author and wrote several children’s books. In September 2008, the first book of the Hunger Games Trilogy was published. She was inspired by a Greek myth: Theseus and the Minotaur.
Her father’s Air Force was also an inspiration. It gave her insight of poverty, starvation, and and the effects of war. The Hunger Games not only was based off of Greek myths, but also other Roman traditions. The Romans often held gladiator games in the Roman Colosseum. These were spectacular and popular to the audience, for they enjoyed watching people die. It also gave people pleasure, and it improved the common people’s thoughts on the emperor. The Hunger Games has these games as well and they were just as brutal. The games also showed how much power the authorities had over all the districts.
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Panem is similar to Rome also by the history of the establishment. Panem has a capital, which is rich, decadent, and has a complete control over all the other outlying districts. In Rome, this is true as well because Roman citizens were usually exempt from certain taxes that the provincials had to pay.
Rome, like Panem, had different provinces that were known for their main exports. Panem’s districts were the same. Each district was known for what their exports were. For example, District twelve was the coal mine.
Surprisingly, Suzanne Collins even used names as a reference. Cinna’s name comes from Julius Caesar’s first father-in-law. Octavia was the sister of Octavian, the first true Roman emperor, who later became known as Caesar Augustus. Flavia is the feminine form of the family name Flavius, which means “golden” in Latin. Also, the end of Mockingjay states that Katniss’s doctor was named Dr. Aurelius.
Marcus Aurelius was a philosopher-emperor. Portia was a Roman woman who was the daughter of Marcus Porcius Cato Uticensis. Cato was a politician and statesman in the late Roman Republic. The phrase “bread and circuses” comes from the Roman satirist Juvenal, in reference to the way a ruling class, according to Cunningham, “pacified the commoners by diverting them from contemplating their subjugation” (Cunningham). In other words, diverting what their political state was. In Rome, the “bread” was distributions of grain, while the “circuses” were the public games and other public spectacles. In Suzanne Collins’ interviews, she confessed that this did specifically inspire her in creating Panem.
The social classes were represented as well. For Rome, the emperor came first. They would maintain control of the empire. Second was the Senators who served to interpret the law. The patricians would secure the power over the lower plebeians. The gladiators would kill the slaves that were put into the Roman Colosseum. After the gladiators, came the plebeians.
The plebeians were free Roman citizens who were not part of the higher classes. The freemen were the former slaves who were set free. Finally came the slaves. They were forced into the Roman games to be torn apart by animals or gladiators. The social classes for Panem were nearly the same with what they were allowed to do.
First comes the President. President Snow was just like the emperors of Rome. Next came the Gamemakers. They controlled the games.
The citizens were free from being put into the games. The peace keepers were almost like guards. They watched over the common people in the districts to make sure they stayed in line.
They also had to uphold the laws of Panem. Next were the mayors and the survivors. The survivors were the winners of the games and the mayors were the ones who controlled their own district. The merchants came next. They lived in the districts and sold things like food and preservatives that were needed to live. Finally, were the common people. Just like the slaves, they were the ones who would fight in the games.
They would have their names drawn out at reapings to find out which two children would be playing part in the games. Rome had a food shortage just like Panem. The Roman farmers could not compete with the with newly conquered provinces. This forced the farmers to leave their fields and look in the cities for work instead. With the farmers not producing crops, they could no longer import anything. Same goes for the Panem districts. Each district had a specific thing to harvest and send to the Capitol. The similarities do not stop there.
The rebellion of Rome and of Panem have similarities as well. They both share the same goal: stop forcing people to be apart of the games and kill other innocent people. The events leading up to the rebellion were not the same, but their goals were alike. In Rome, a gladiator named Spartacus and many slaves who teamed with him made an escape to threaten the government on the forcing people to become gladiators and kill slaves.
Katniss Everdeen started showed they could control the Capitol by threatening a double suicide. Haymitch warns her saying “Listen up. You’re in trouble. Word is the Capitol’s furious about you showing them up in the arena. The one thing they can’t stand is being laughed at and they’re the joke of Panem” (Collins). This showed they could control actions the Capitol performed and stop the Hunger Games.
Of course, for The Hunger Games, this was not the first time. “The first known rebellious activity took place in District 8 after the 74th Hunger Games Victory Tour” (Unknown). After the train left District 8, a violent riot erupted. The violence was servere for the common people were fighting against the Peacekeepers. The Capitol ended up bombing the district and cutting food and electricity supply. In Rome, there were several wars with Spartacus and his group. In fact, the government called them “unstoppable” because they had destroyed every amount of soldiers Rome threw at them. This differs from the second Rebellion of Panem.
Katniss had destroyed the force field that enclosed the arena and was able to escape on a District 13 aircraft. But some of the people, including Peeta Mellark, had been captured by District 4 and held hostage at the Capitol. In the end, 59 of the known members of the second rebellion, only 30 survived. Spartacus’s rebellion did not end so well. In fact, Spartacus died in battle and the few slaves in his revolt were crucified. As you can see, Panem and ancient Rome have many similarities. There are so many, it could not be a coincidence.
Even in interviews, Suzanne Collins has admitted to the similarities between Rome and Panem. The districts and their exports, the social classes and even the rebellion. Even if you did not notice how related they are, Collins’ story has certainly become one of the most amazing worldwide phenomena.