CHAPTER 11.—THE ROMAN EMPIRE DECLINES AND FALLS FOR 1500 YEARS STRAIGHT. It’s a must read. In the words of a dear friend: Don’t think of it as fun, think of it as a duty, imposed by an awesome burden of guilt.
Among many brilliant observations:
After a brief experiment with wise emperors, including Marcus Aurelius, who spent most of his reign polishing aphorisms, the empire entered a period known to historians as the Age of the Revolving Door, when new emperors entered the palace at noon, and their mangled corpses were tossed out the door by tea time. The lack of stability at the top seeped through even into the lower levels of the Roman bureaucracy, and the treasury was deplete by the lavish donatives each fresh emperor distributed to buy the loyalty of the soldiers. The soldiers, being no fools, quickly learned that a high turnover rate meant high profits, and made sure to keep the door revolving.
Go, now, and read the rest. Stuff like this makes hope spring up anew in my heart, until the next headline smashes it to despair. My heart: a giant Whack-a-Mole game of hope.