“I think there can be no doubt what lies in the future for Rome. When a state has warded off many serious threats, and has come to attain undisputed supremacy and sovereignty, it is easy to see that, after a long period of settled prosperity, lifestyles become more extravagant, and rivalry over political positions and other such projects becomes fiercer than it should be. If these processes continue for very long, society will change for the worse. The causes of the deterioration will be lust for power combined with contempt for political obscurity, and personal ostentation and extravagance. It will be called a democratic revolution, however, because the time will come when the people will feel abused by some politicians’ self-seeking ambition, and will have been flattered into vain hopes by others’ lust for power. Under these circumstances, all their decisions will be motivated by anger and passion, and they will no longer be content to be subject or even equal to those in power. When this happens, the new constitution will be described in the most attractive terms, as ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy,’ but in fact it will be the worst of all constitutions, mob-rule.”

Polybius, “The Histories” (Book 6), c.250 BC