When constant wars made the Roman treasury run short, our forefathers often used to levy a property tax. Every effort must be made to prevent a repetition of this; and all possible precautions must be taken to ensure that such a step will never be needed. What I am going to say now will refer to the world in general and not specifically to Rome, because when I am making ominous forecasts I would rather that they were directed towards other countries and not our own. But if anygovernment should find itself under the necessity of levying a tax on property, the utmost care has to be devoted to making it clear to the entire population that this simply has to be done because no alternative exists short of complete national collapse.
As for dogs which mount faithful guard, fawn affectionately on their masters, show such detestation of strangers, exhibit an astonishing ability to pick up a scent, and show such enthusiasm for the hunt, what does all this denote except that they are bred for the benefit of the human race?
How beautiful again is the sea, and how splendid in its entirety, with its crowd and variety of islands, its picturesque coastlines and beaches! It is the home of so many different species of marine life, partly dwelling under water, partly floating and swimming on the surface, and partly encrusted on the rocks with its shells. The sea itself in its longing to embrace the land, sports on its shoreline, so that the two elements seem to merge into one.
…Children ought to be provided with property and resources of a kind [referring to the tools of philosophic knowledge and learning] that could swim with them even out of a shipwreck. These are indeed the true supports of life, and neither Fortune’s adverse gale, nor political revolution, nor ravages of war can do them any harm. Developing the same idea, Theophrastus, urging men to acquire learning rather than to put their trust in money, states the case thus: “The man of learning is the only person in the world who is neither a stranger when in a foreign land, nor friendless when he has lost his intimates and relatives; on the contrary, he is a citizen of every country, and can fearlessly look down upon the troublesome accidents of fortune. But he who thinks himself entrenched in defenses not of learning but of luck, moves in slippery paths, struggling through life unsteadily and insecurely.”
~Vitruvius, De architectura (The Ten Books on Architecture), book VI. 1st century B.C.
All the gifts which fortune bestows she can easily take away; but education, when combined with intelligence, never fails, but abides steadily on to the very end of life.