Oratory is no longer an independent voice appealing to sentiments of Roman dignity, but the weapon of the "informers" (delatores), wielded for their own advancement and the destruction of that class which, even in their degeneracy, retained most sympathy with the national traditions.
They underwent the natural and inevitable vicissitudes of all orders, having their periods of depression and degeneracy, and again of revival and reform.
In this period of degeneracy there were none the less an awakening to religious needs and a profound longing for a new revelation of truth, which should satisfy at once the intellect and the religious emotions.
The task was a great one, and the fame to be won by it uncertain, yet it would be something to have made the attempt, and the labour itself would bring a welcome relief from the contemplation of present evils; for his readers, too, this record will, he says, be full of instruction; they are invited to note especially the moral lessons taught by the story of Rome, to observe how Rome rose to greatness by the simple virtues and unselfish devotion of her citizens, and how on the decay of these qualities followed degeneracy and decline.
On the whole, then (though degeneracy, as well as progress, is a force in human evolution), we are not tempted to believe in so strange a combination of forgetfulness with long memory, nor so excessive a degeneration from common sense into a belief in the personality of phenomena, as are required no less by Spencer's system than by that of Max Muller.
Mimnermus laments the degeneracy of the citizens of his day, who could no longer stem the Lydian advance.
And his unprincipled compact with the papacy largely accounted for the degeneracy of the English hierarchy and the laxity of ecclesiastical discipline.
He notices the incipient degeneracy of Rome after 146 (xviii.