“What chiefly makes the study of history wholesome and profitable is this, that you behold the lessons of every kind of experience set forth as on a conspicuous monument; from these you may choose for yourself and for your own state what to imitate, from these mark for avoidance what is shameful in the conception and shameful in the result. For the rest, either love of the task I have set myself deceives me, or no state was ever greater, none more righteous or richer in good examples, none ever was where avarice and luxury came into the social order so late, or where humble means and thrift were so highly esteemed and so long held in honour. For true it is that the less men’s wealth was, the less was their greed. Of late, riches have brought in avarice, and excessive pleasures the longing to carry wantonness and licence to the point of ruin for oneself and of universal destruction.” [emphasis added]
— Livy, Ab Urbe Condita (The Histories), Preface to Book I
Here’s yet another instance where a voice from 2,000 years ago cautions us to both study and incorporate the lessons of history, and shows us what happened to a once great nation who forgot its virtues. Do the last two sentences sound at all like what’s going on today?