Following up on “Are we declining from our decline?” and “The constant decline of civilization?”, here is one of my favorites historians, Sallust (86– c. 35 BCE), on how his generation of Romans is so much worse morally than the preceding ones. In The War with Catiline, he writes:
“Since the occasion has arisen to speak of the morals of our country, the nature of my theme seems to suggest that I go farther back and give a brief account of the institutions of our forefathers in peace and in war, how they governed the commonwealth, how great it was when they bequeathed it to us, and how by gradual changes it has ceased to be the noblest and best, and has become the worst and most vicious.”
About Rome’s forefathers: “good morals were cultivated at home and in the field; there was the greatest harmony and little or no avarice; justice and probity prevailed among them.” They “adorned the shrines of the gods with piety, their own homes with glory, while from the vanquished they took naught save the power of doing harm.”
But Rome now is a moral mess: “The men of to‑day, on the contrary, basest of creatures, with supreme wickedness are robbing our allies of all that those heroes in the hour of victory had left them; they act as though the one and only way to rule were to wrong.”
So I add Sallust to this updated, chronologically-listed series of Declinist quotations.
Source: The War with Catiline, sections 5, 9, and 12.