“Rome had grown out of greatness of individual character. It became a community in which individual character counted for nothing compared with an abstraction which proved, in the hour of testing, capable of nothing. By sacrificing the individual to the state, the rulers of the Roman world undermined the real virtues which sustained it. They turned active and self-respecting citizens into inert and selfish ones. They discouraged the capitalist from thrift and foresight, the trader from enterprise, the craftsman from his hereditary skill, the husbandman from pride in the soil, the mother from maternity, the soldier from courage and self-sacrifice. They made the moral shell which protected society so soft that it could protect it no longer. A creeping inertia paralysed everyone and everything. Even before the barbarians broke in, the elegant cities had begun to crumble, trade to die, for want of purchasers, learning, art, and even bureaucratic efficiency to disappear for lack of men with ability. The middle class was exterminated. Civilisation slowly gave place to barbarism at the Empire’s heart.”
▪ Arthur Bryant, Set in a Silver Sea (Grafton, 1985) extract from page 42.