Cum videris forum multitudine refertum et saepta concursu omnis frequentiae plena et illum circum in quo maximam sui partem populus ostendit, hoc scito, istic tantundem esse vitiorum quantum hominum. inter istos quos togatos vides nulla pax est: alter in alterius exitium levi compendio ducitur; nulli nisi ex alterius iniuria quaestus est; felicem oderunt, infelicem contemnunt; maiorem gravantur, minori graves sunt; diversis stimulantur cupiditatibus; omnia perdita ob levem voluptatem praedamque cupiunt. non alia quam in ludo gladiatorio vita est cum isdem viventium pugnantiumque. ferarum iste conventus est, nisi quod illae inter se placidae sunt morsuque similium abstinent, hi mutua laceratione satiantur. hoc uno ab animalibus mutis differunt, quod illa mansuescunt alentibus, horum rabies ipsos a quibus est nutrita depascitur.
(Seneca Minor, De Ira 2.8)
When you see the forum packed with a mob, and the polling place filled with a swarming crowd, and that circus where the greatest part of the populace is on display, be sure that there are just as many vices on hand as there are people. Those you see in civilian dress are constantly warring among themselves. One man’s led to destroy another for a small gain; no one profits save from another’s harm; they hate the prosperous and despise the poor, resent the greater man and afflict the lesser. Goaded by a host of desires, they lust to win some trivially pleasurable prize from any and every depravity. It’s a way of life no different from a gladiatorial school: living and fighting with the same people. It’s a gathering of wild beasts—except that beasts live peacefully among themselves and don’t bite their own, whereas these get their fill by tearing each other to pieces. In this one respect they differ from animals incapable of speech: the latter behave gently toward their keepers, these in their frenzy bite the hand that feeds them. (tr. Robert A. Kaster)