The Spartan statesman Lycurgus, seven hundred years ago, is said to have observed: When falls on man the anger of the gods, First from his mind they banish understanding. Such was to be the fate of Caesar. I am sure Cicero was correct: he had gone mad. His success had made him vain, and his vanity had devoured his reason.

Sometimes it is foolish to articulate an ambition too early–exposing it prematurely to the laughter and skepticism of the world can destroy it before it is even properly born. But sometimes the opposite occurs, and the very act of mentioning a thing makes it suddenly seem possible, even plausible.

Surely the greatest mercy granted us by Providence is our ignorance of the future. Imagine if we knew the outcome of our hopes and plans, or could see the manner in which we are doomed to die – how ruined our lives would be! Instead we live on dumbly from day to day as happily as animals. But all things must come to dust eventually. No human being, no system, no age is impervious to this law; everything beneath the stars will perish; the hardest rock will be worn away. Nothing endures but words.

And so we drifted towards calamity. At times, Cicero was shrewd enough to see it. “Can a constitution devised centuries ago to replace a monarchy, and based upon a citizens’ militia, possibly hope to run an empire whose scope is beyond anything ever dreamed of by its framers? Or must the existence of standing armies and the influx of inconceivable wealth inevitably destroy our democratic system?

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