Blog Schedule

I post on Monday with an occasional random blog thrown in for good measure. I do my best to answer all comments via email and visit around on the days I post.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Random Thought Thursday

Today's quote is not a quote, it's a short excerpt from a book by Thomas Cahill called How the Irish Saved Civilization, copyright 1995. Check it out, it's an excellent read. In this particular excerpt Mr. Cahill is summing up the causes for the fall of the Roman Empire, which was long drawn out affair ending with it's final death throws when the Visigoths ransacked Rome on a cold December day in 406 AD.

"There are, no doubt, lessons here for the contemporary reader. The changing character of the native population, brought about through unremarked pressures on porous borders; the creation of an increasingly unwieldy and rigid bureaucracy, whose own survival becomes its overriding goal; the despising of the military and the avoidance of its service by established families, while its offices present unprecedented opportunity for marginal men to whom its ranks had once been closed; the lip service paid to values long dead; the pretense that we still are what we once were; the increasing concentration of the populace into richer and poorer by way of a corrupt tax system, and the desperation that inevitably follows; the aggrandizement of executive power at the expense of  the legislature; ineffectual legislation promulgated with great show; the moral vocation of the man at the top to maintain order at all costs, while growing blind to the cruel dilemmas of ordinary life -- these are all themes with which our world is familiar, nor are they the God-given property of any party or political point of view, even though we often act as if they were. At least the emperor could not heap his economic burdens on posterity by creating long-term public debt, for floating capital had not yet been conceptualized."

If we do not learn from history we are doom repeat it. See how the mighty have fallen.
The Forum in Rome. Photo by Erin Silversmith


  1. That's a really great quote. History is repeated everywhere. Apparently, we humans find it hard to learn from our mistakes.

  2. How many folks read/look at something like that and think that catastrophic failure won't happen to us...

  3. Hi Bish - I read that book a few years back and his one - The Gift of the Jews - also a marvellous read.
    I think the line in the piece you quoted: "the creation of an increasingly unwieldy and rigid bureaucracy, whose own survival becomes its overriding goal" is something we have to become very careful of - in Canada anyway.

  4. Interesting!

    I'd heard of this book but never read it. Now I really want to!

  5. I think it's human nature to repeat mistakes - kind of a tragic flaw we are all prone to. I see my friends creating the same situations in their lives over and over and I think history reflects that, just on a larger scale.

  6. This sounds like a really amazing book. Thanks for the great quote. I had to run downstairs and read it to my husband!

  7. That quote is chilling: how history repeats itself.

    I've heard of this book too, and I suspect we even have it in the house. Yet one more reason why I should try to organize the boxes of books I've still got upstairs.

  8. So true. If we don't learn, it could happen again. Yikes.

  9. Thank you for providing this blood-chilling quote from "How the Irish . . . " I wanted to save it, but return the library's book. The first part of Cahill's book was interesting, but he lost me when he got to the Irish fables.

    I grew up with the name Katharine Denham Egger and have a grandchild named Denham.


Your Random Thoughts are most welcome!