"Nowadays, when all anyone seems to know about the Roman Empire is that it fell, comparisons are constantly offered between the Romans and the Americans which have little to do with historical reality. Most attractive is the one which assumes that the "fall of Rome," like the soon expected fall of America, was due to moral weakness and gross (preferably sexual) self-indulgence. The analogy would be less foolish if it were the case that Roman morality declined in the fifth century A.D., when the barbarians came. Actually, the first complaints about the city's moral decline were heard in the second century B.C. at a time when Rome was not falling but rising and there was as yet no such thing as an emperor. We live in a country founded by colonial gentlemen who not only understood Roman history but were fond of quoting it in Latin. Recently, the United States has produced a generation of leaders who do not even know that Rome was a republic and that it did not become a hereditary monarchy until the emperor Augustus gave up on the old constitution at about the time of Christ."-from The End of Kings: A history of Republics and Republicans. The cause of my low writing output yesterday and last night. I probably won't type much until I finish the last fifty pages this morning. Two thumbs up. A must read. Thank you, staghounds.