In time, Rome changed as it grew in power and ifluence in the Mediterranean. Wealth began to be concentrated in fewer hands, and those hands learned how to wield power, how to buy votes, how to lobby and bribe. And the Senate learned how to be bribed, and grow rich by selling favors and legislation to the highest bidder.
As Rome began to absorb its neighbors, taking their wealth and turning their populace into slaves, the individual small farmer found he could not compete with the wealthy large landowners, who farmed their land with slave labor and could sell their grain cheaper than the individual farmer could. So, he wound up selling his land to the wealthy and was left with three choices. He could run up debts, be arrested and sold into slavery; he could move into Rome and go on the corn dole; or he could become a Roman Legionary. Most of them chose door three. A military career was one of honor. You were a Roman Citizen, and therefore better than anyone else. If you were good at your job and avoided being killed, you could advance in rank. If you retired as a Centurion or perhaps a Tribune, your future and pension were secure. The higher ranks could move into politics and perhaps become movers and shakers, especially if popular with the legions. Also, you could become a consul, ruling a captured city or country in the name of Rome. This was truly the road to graft ridden riches.
In time, Rome became an Empire, ruled by a series of Emperors, some good and beneficent, some bloody horrors worthy of a Stephen King novel all to themselves. Some were put into power by the military, and some that the military were displeased with were taken out by them.
However, the "known world" finally had enough. Meanwhile, the corrupt cesspool that the Roman government had become began to self destruct through internecine strife between factions, favorites, would-be Emperors, etc. The monies that had supported the legions began to disappear into the pockets of the wealthy contractors. Inferior arms and supplies were sent out. Corrupt officials were appointed as officers and governors. They had no idea of what they were to do, except to gain wealth and power. Gradually, the conquered peoples began to rise. Finally, having learned the rules of Roman War, they began to push the Romans back. Years turned into decades, turned into centuries, but always the "Known World" pushed back at the Romans until they finally managed to storm the gates and rape Rome, as they had been raped for centuries.
That is a tiny capsule of a history that extended over a thousand years. It started with a noble cause of freedom and a republic and ended with a corrupt, wealthy, powerful Empire, which was reduced to nothing but a memory by the peoples that it oppressed, and by the rot and corruption within that it had fostered, but which finally grew out of control.
It wrote and ratified a Constitution and a Bill of Rights that no nation on earth had ever done before. It was so inspiring that many emerging nations adopted it as a pattern for their own constitutions. During my lifetime, that nation turned two hundred years old. Already, the stench of the eagle's eyrie had begun to pervade the halls of government. As the Roman Republic gradually turned into an empire and its Senate turned from representatives of the people to a corrupt, venal gang, salable to the highest bidder, so has our House and Senate turned into the tools of the lobbyist, the wealthy, the special interests. The office of the Presidency has turned from one of election of the people's choice, to the appointment of an Emperor by the Supreme Court, which was appointed by his predecessors. Elections are now bought and sold, and the hubris of the Emperor has led to an unending war, started by lies and deceit and resulting in greater power for the rulers and huge riches for the elite at the expense of the populace.
The military, which was once used to protect the nation against attack by a foreign power is now an arm of the Empire, fighting pre-emptive wars to increase the wealth of the elite and to expand the Empire's hegemony. Gradually, the people being held down by the Empire are fighting back and the losses are horrible and tragic.
Our Emperor, George the Intestinally Challenged, wants us to dominate the world through the troops he was unwilling to join. He is getting more desperate as the internal rot of his government is being exposed. His only answer is new wars, more chaos, more restrictions on the people. He has the ability to destroy all life on earth several dozens of times over. He is mad enough to do it to bring about fulfillment of the prophecy of Armageddon.
I grew up in a democracy, or to be technical, in a democratic republic. It was a country which at least tried to make life better around the world. It was not perfect, but it tried. Now, I am looking at an empire which wants to control the world, and which sends its troops out, as Rome did the legions, to pacify peoples around the world, teaching them to appreciate "democracy, the Pax Americana" with bayonet, napalm, razor wire, torture and nuclear weapons.
Someday, the Empire will collapse from the rot within, and the pressure from the people of the world, tired of the new Rome. Their retribution will be terrible.