Annals of Rome (and America)
I recommend Annal of Rome by Tacitus to anyone seeking to understand modern America. The Roman Republic collapsed in large part because of three circumstances: they neglected morality; had a good balance of powers spread between three groups, the Senate, the Consuls, and the polity (people); and most of all desired liberty over security.
Where Rome had once valued morality and the absence of corruption, politicians could later be bought. Bribery had once been a capital crime in Rome. Boys had once been taught from early the importance of bravery and sacrifice and had heros to look up to. Those heros died out along with the morals of the people. Polybius had written in the golden age of Rome that their religion and therefore morals were their greatest strength.
To quote an old, disallusioned man writing in 109 A.D., "They preferred the safety of the present to the dangerous past". Augustus gave the people what they wanted- cheap food and fun entertainment. As long as they had a hot meal and exciting, bloody sports, there was no risk of uprising. He gave the nobles wealth and the people food in exchange for obedience. I wrote in a previous post that this is the method the devil uses- he promises safety, power, or wealth if a person will obey him. Looking back at history, this seems to be the goal of so many people. We want safety but at what price? How far can a people go until they've become slaves?
With the Senate and Consuls being given wealth in exchange for going along with the emperor and the people kept out of the way and apathetic, the balance of power was eliminated.
Today in America, morals are considered personal choices and are not mandatory. No moral is better than another. Boys are drugged up and prevented from being boys and masculinity is either distorted into hypermasculinity by gang cultures or looked down on by teachers, often parents, many churches, and so forth. I worry about America and its fascination with Social Security and sports- with bread and circuses. Why is the government so interested in regulating sports? Why do more people watch the Superbowl than vote? The people have lost all power, as have the states, thus giving the Federal government far too much power, particularly in the judicial and executive branches.
We share so many characteristics with the declining Romans. History repeats itself time and time again for there is "nothing new under the sun" (Ecclesiastes 1:9). May we once again learn to relish freedom.