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“And, indeed, if the intellectual ability of kings and magistrates were exerted to the same degree in peace as in war, human affairs would be more orderly and settled, and you would not see governments shifted from hand to hand, and things universally changed and confused. For dominion is easily secured by those qualities by which it was at first obtained. But when sloth has introduced itself in the place of industry, and covetousness and pride in that of moderation and equity, the fortune of a state is altered together with its morals; and thus authority is always transferred from the less to the more deserving.” — Gaius Sallustius Crispus (Sallust)
The first time I saw this quote, it was the abbreviated version starting at “But when sloth…” and going to the end. My thought reading that was, “That’s not my experience or reading of history there, old son.” But seeing the larger quote, it becomes obvious he is writing of changes in the power structures and of who is in place. Eventually, the people get tired of corruption and rise up. Eventually, a great man (or at least superior to his predecessors) arises to clean out the Augean stables of government. Or, the nation falls to another, which will have a higher vision. Sallust lived through a period when the Roman Republic was falling apart with factional fighting and finally fell into being the Roman Principate. I believe we are living through a similar period now.