"Compared to you, Athens and Lacedaemon,
though civil cities, with their ancient laws,
had merely sketched the life of righteousness;
for you devise provisions so ingenious--
whatever threads October sees you spin,
when mid-November comes, will be unspun.
How often, in the time you can remember,
have you changed laws and coinage, offices
and customs, and revised your citizens!
And if your memory has some clarity,
then you will see yourself like that sick woman
who finds no rest upon her feather bed,
but, turning, tossing, tries to ease her pain."
-Dante, Purgatorio, VI.139 trans. Mandlebaum