It is easier to explain Rome’s fall than to account for her long survival. This is the essential accomplishment of Rome- that having won the Mediterranean world she adopted its culture, gave it order, prosperity, and peace for 200 years, held back the tide of barbarism for two centuries more, and transmitted the classic heritage to the West before she died.

Rome has had no rival in the art of government. The Roman state committed a thousand political crimes; it built its edifice upon a selfish oligarchy and an obscurantist priesthood; it achieved a democracy of freemen, and then destroyed it with corruption and violence; it exploited its conquests to support a parasitic Italy, which, when it could no longer exploit, collapsed. Here and there, in East and West, it created a desert and called it peace. But amid all this evil it formed a majestic system of law which through nearly all Europe gave security to life and property, incentive and continuity to industry, from the Decemvirs to Napoleon. It molded a government of separated legislative and executive powers whose checks and balances inspired the makers of constitutions as late as revolutionary America and France. For a time it united monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy so successfully as to win the applause of philosophers, historians, subjects, and enemies. It gave municipal institutions, and for a long period municipal freedom, to half a thousand cities. It administered its Empire at first with greed and cruelty, then with such tolerance and essential justice that the great realm has never again known a like content. It made the desert blossom with civilization, and atoned for its sins with the miracle of a lasting peace. Today our highest labors seek to revive the Pax Romana for a disordered world.