Thursday, January 12, 2017

Quote of the Day (Livy, on an Earlier Great Power’s ‘Process of …Moral Decline’)

“I invite the reader's attention to...the process of our moral decline, to watch, first, the sinking of the foundations of morality as the old teaching was allowed to lapse, then the rapidly increasing disintegration, then the final collapse of the whole edifice, and the dark dawning of our modern day when we can neither endure our vices nor face the remedies needed to cure them.”—Roman historian Titus Livius, known as Livy (59 BC-17 AD), The History of Early Rome, Book One: Rome Under the Kings, translated by Aubrey de Selincourt

The image accompanying this post is a still from the classic Stanley Kubrick film Spartacus, with Laurence Olivier (center) as the ambitious politician-general Crassus. Immoral (the “oyster-and-snails” scene between Olivier and Tony Curtis captures the tone, if not the literal fact, of this real-life sybarite), Crassus made his fortune through…real estate speculation—buying burnt and collapsed buildings, then exploiting slave labor to rebuild them.

Surely, no such example of unapologetic avarice, decadence and power hunger could exist today, could it?

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