H.V. Morton on the Decline of Civilization

https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5058/5478051928_a878078802_b.jpg
Ruins of the Temple of Artemis at Sardis, in Asia Minor (Turkey).
color view of reconstructed model of Temple of Artemis, at Miniatürk Park, Istanbul, Turkey
A modern re-creation of what the Temple might have looked like, in its glory.

“Politicians of Western nations ought not to be eligible for election until they have travelled the ancient world. All the cities of the Graeco-Roman world have become slums. That pride which made Asia-Minor, in the words of Theodore Mommsen, “the promised land of municipal vanity” vanished with the Muslim conquest. Politicians should be made to see how easy it is for the constant sea of savagery, which flows forever around the small island of civilisation, to break in and destroy.

“Asia Minor was once as highly organised as Europe is today: a land of large cities whose libraries and public monuments were so splendid that when we today retrieve fragments of this lost world we think it worth while to build museums to house them. Yet a few centuries of occupation by a static race have seen the highest pillars fall to earth, have witnessed the destruction of aqueducts that carried life-giving water from afar, and have seen the silting up of harbours that once sheltered the proudest navies of the ancient world. I cannot understand how any traveller can stand unmoved at the graveside of the civilisation from which our own world springs, or can see Corinthian capitals lying in the mud, without feeling that such things hold a lesson and a warning and, perhaps, a prophesy.

— H.V. Morton: In the Steps of St. Paul (1936), p.56-7.

Let us say the situation has not improved dramatically since 1936. Sadly, rather the reverse…