The Durk Pearson & Sandy Shaw®
Life Extension NewsTM
Volume 18 No. 3 • July 2015

Complaints From the Past
Anything About This Sound Familiar?

If anybody is interested, the historical course of the Roman Empire looks almost exactly in its declining years like what is going on now in the U.S. and the modern world, with our advanced technologies mostly speeding up the changes but otherwise things look almost the same. Remember it was the collapse of the plumbing, e.g., the Roman water supply and sewage systems, that ultimately (as the proximal cause) depopulated the city by killing people with repeated plagues of diseases resulting from the poorly maintained fresh water and sewage systems. And, of course, it was Benjamin Franklin who has been given credit for saying, as he left the Constitutional Convention of 1789, “you have a Republic ... if you can keep it.” Well, so did the Roman Empire and they failed to keep it. The [Roman] Republic entered the dustbin of history and it was followed by .... well …

Here’s the complaint. The poet Virgil narrowly avoided losing his estates during the period when Octavian took over Spain, Sardinia, and Africa, and undertook to put down Sextus Pompeius (the son of Pompey). Virgil alluded to this in his first Eclogue:

“To think of some godless soldier owning my well-farmed fallow, A foreigner reaping these crops!

“To such a pass has civil Dissension brought us; for people like these we have sown our fields.”1


  1. Virgil’s The Eclogues 1.70 ff, trans. C. Day Lewis, in The Eclogues, Georgics and Aeneid of Virgil, Oxford Univ. Press (1966), cited in Stephen Kershaw, A Brief Guide to Classical Civilization (Running Press, 2010).

Letter to Virgil

Dear Virgil,

We were sorry to hear of your problems with various military invaders from the Roman Empire. We do hate to tell you this but even if you could get to our time via time travel, it would do you no good as the situation hasn’t improved at all. They do it (sow crops in your field) with regulations rather than (usually) outright invasion, but the result is the same: your crops disappear and you don’t get to eat or sell them. Of course, there are a lot of interesting new things (such as telephones, the Internet, jet planes, etc.) available nowadays, so you still might like to make the trip. We just thought you ought to know that your crops will not be any safer from state predators today than they were then. See the US Supreme Court decision called KELO.

If you do decide to take the trip, available at your local time travel provider, please come and visit us. One caution, though, governments and predators (though sometimes in disguise) are everywhere and at all times.

We had a Republic, Virgil, but we couldn’t keep it.

Sorry about that.

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