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The Modern Romans (part 1)

The FIVE MAJOR CAUSES for the collapse of the Roman Empire are rife in modern America and Britain.
Tragically, modern man has not learned from historical mistakes.
Millions today believe America is too big, too powerful, and too wealthy to suffer a similar fate.
But the cold facts present a bleak warning — a warning we simply must not ignore!


"Ho, ho!" they laughed at the warnings of Seneca. "Rome fall? Never!"

To Roman citizens living in the glitter of empire — enjoying an explosive frenzy of building, with huge cities, bejeweled with rising marble columns, with paved, pleasant tree-lined avenues and rushing fountains; seeing the victory parades through triumphal arches of yet additional conquests; hearing of the exploits of this or that great general — Rome was impregnable. She was the world — and the world was Rome.

To speculate for one brief moment that all this could soon collapse — that the ravages of wars, taxation, mounting crime, race riots, subversion from within, political assassinations, natural disasters and public apathy would one day bring Rome to utter collapse and ruin, was not only unimaginable to them — it was folly to the heights of idiocy.

And to millions of American and British people today — the thought that America and Britain could suffer a similar fate — though with more modern consequences — seems equally ludicrous.

But Rome fell.

Now the voices of the ancient scoffers are as still as the silent war and the rubble of ancient Rome — mute testimony to a once-proud empire.

Unable to stem a tidal wave of violence, wild spending, wars, degenerating morals, and unbelievable public willingness to accept the society of their day — they were led to the final fate they all denied was possible. Millions of ancients lived to see the "impossible" happen.

Rome fell.

And there were causes for that huge empire's drift into chaos and final collapse — specific, definable reasons.


and Today . . .?

Today, millions the world over stand in open-mouthed awe of the achievements of space-age man. Moon walks, laser rays, heart transplants, computers — the dazzling advances of technology serve to convince millions that we have become scientifically secure; impervious, eternal.

Only dollars are needed, goes the vague thinking, and time. With money and time, science can deliver us from every trouble. Should our hearts fail, medical science can surely give us someone else's; or perhaps one made of plastic. A cancer? Laser surgery must surely come.

Worldwide food shortages? We'll "farm" the seas.

This supreme confidence in man's own abilities is evidenced all around us. But unfortunately these are only a modern form of idolatry, and salvation from growing world troubles by the vehicle of science will prove as empty a dream as Roman prayers to Jupiter, Venus, or the Emperor.

We, too, can fall.


The Affluence of Rome

The Romans were the Americans and Britons (with Canadians, Australians, South Africans and others included) of their day. They were the wealthy ones; those with the highest culture, fantastic buildings, institutions, and sprawling cities. They were affluent.

And they thought it could never end.

"If, at any time in history, a people could have looked confidently to the future, it was the Roman people of the second century of our era," wrote Dr. Robert Strauss-Hupe, noted historian and international relations expert.

"Within the empire, law and order prevailed, and never [before] did almost everybody 'have it so good' . . . no foreign power could challenge her."

Up until the last few years this could have sounded much like a description of our peoples. But Strauss-Hupe asks, "Why did this . . . civilization decline at all? And why did it decline so rapidly that, within another 100 years, the Roman Empire was plunged irreversibly into anarchy and penury, ravaged by foreign aggressors and doomed to extinction?"

Remember, when Rome was synonymous with splendor, power, wealth and dignity, no one thought such a thing remotely possible. But it happened.

How many millions believe "it can't happen here" of OUR nation? The same author says, "What can Roman experience teach us? Of course, it can teach us nothing if . . . we are satisfied with the . . . [notion] that the Romans of the second century were not Americans of the twentieth century, and that, hence, what happened to them could never happen to us."

But the striking parallels between our peoples today and the Romans of yesteryear make such complacency very dangerous.


Are You Sure This Is ROME?

"Prodigious engineers . . . high-rise apartment houses . . . the cosmetic arts . . . spectator sports . . . sightseers and tourists." These are only a few of the words used to describe Romans of the second century.

Fortunately, Roman history is well documented. We know more about the Romans than any other great civilization of the past — and the more we investigate their lives, the more we are forced to face the true causes for their final collapse!

They built roads all over the known world at that time — and, believe it or not, some of those same roads are still in use today!

Romans cherished body hygiene, physical culture and health. "Roman baths" of a country club atmosphere are thoroughly documented, and their ruins are with us to this day. The Romans were travelers — inveterate sightseers and tourists. Nothing was quite so dear to the Roman heart as languid vacationing, health resorts, mountain spas, or seashore villas. One of the most obvious marks of affluence was the possession of one's personal vacation retreat.

The cities began to become increasingly crowded, requiring the development of high-rise apartment complexes. Records prove many of these became so much like modern slums today (some were so poorly constructed that, despite stringent Roman building codes, they menaced the health and safety of infuriated tenants) that the parallel is inescapable.

And Romans had long since mastered the art of plumbing and built water supply and sewer systems perhaps only slightly inferior to ours, and some of them still function!

As the cities grew, Romans began discovering mounting urban problems. Traffic congestion became unbearable, slums, ghettos, unemployment and crime were crushing in on the big city dweller until Rome's cities and countryside as well became unsafe places.

Annals absolutely prove that various civic disturbances over some of these worsening conditions resulted in riots and conflagrations which literally destroyed whole towns!

Rome had her "long hot summers," too!

And her economy? Rome collapsed under the crushing twin burdens of confiscatory taxation and creeping inflation. The steady deterioration of Rome's currency was symptomatic of the increasingly serious financial situation of the empire.

But note this: What "average" pleasure-oriented Roman, living for the day, ever dreamed his proud nation would someday collapse into ignominy and be remembered only in the past tense in the pages of history?

There were those who warned the Romans of the inevitable end of their ways. Rome had its prophets, its seers, its political satirists. But their combined "jeremiad" fell on deaf ears. Romans, as a whole, would not listen.

And Rome fell.

Americans, Britons, Canadians, Australians, South Africans — as a whole — are not listening to the veritable torrent of shouts and warnings trumpeted by leaders in all aspects of national life.

Will our nations also fall?


The Five Major Causes

The five major causes for the decline and fall of the Roman Empire deduced from the writings of Edward Gibbon and noted historians of the Roman world are these: (1) The BREAKDOWN OF THE FAMILY and the rapid increase of DIVORCE. (2) The spiraling rise of TAXES and EXTRAVAGANT SPENDING. (3) The MOUNTING CRAZE FOR PLEASURE and the brutalization of sports. (4) The mounting production of ARMAMENTS to fight ever-increasing threats of enemy attacks. (5) The DECAY OF RELIGION into myriad and confusing forms, leaving the people without a uniform guide.

Every one of these factors is brimful and running over today. You read it in your daily newspapers — growing incidence of divorce, broken homes and juvenile delinquency, inflation and taxation, the pleasure binge, the revelation of the gigantic "military-industrial complex," the startling growth of occultism and weird religion.

They are all part of our world — our society.

They were a part of Rome's, too.


Divorce, Roman Style

According to Roman authors such as Aulus Gellius, Valerius Maximus and Dionysius of Halicarnassus, divorces in early Rome were extremely rare — in fact, all but unknown.

But in the first century B.C. — about the time of Cicero — marital breakdowns, especially in the upper classes, had become so prevalent that divorce became "normal."

"From this time on, we witness an epidemic of divorces, at least among the aristocracy whose matrimonial adventures are documented," writes Jerome Carcopino in his book Daily Life in Ancient Rome.

Regarding the Rome of the Antonine period (around A.D. 150), Carcopino quotes from Seneca: "They divorce in order to remarry. They marry in order to divorce."

Martial declared that marriage had become merely a form of legalized adultery!


"Modern Roman" Divorce

Practically the same wording may be used to describe the American marriage-go-round today.

The divorce rate in the United States rose in 1968 to the second highest level ever recorded. Early indications are that the figures for 1969 will be even higher.

On a statistical average there is more than one divorce or annulment in the U.S. every minute — there being approximately 526,000 minutes in a year. For every three to four marriages performed in the United States, there is one divorce or annulment.

Dr. Clifford Rose Adams, professor emeritus of Penn State University, reported on June 8 that government statistics showing that about 28 percent of all marriages end in divorce are misleading. He said:

"If you take in annulments and desertions (about 100,000 yearly) which are not included, the figure would be nearer 40 percent. Add to this what we call the morbidity marriage, where a man and woman may continue living with each other just for appearances or convenience while actually hating each other, and you find that only about 25 percent of marriages are really happy. The other 75 percent are a bust."