Let’s see if this sounds familiar: Rome started as a small city-state, but grew to conquer the European continent and beyond. Internally, the city of seven hills suffered from several major economic crises, civil war and revolts. These problems were quelled by a focus on near constant external war. Eventually Rome not only ceased being a free republic where rulers were elected and the people respected, but also developed a two-party political system, dominated by populist rulers who sought to redistribute wealth and subsidize agriculture. This got to the point where the people would vote themselves bread and circuses. Indeed, their happiness and peacefulness depended on these government benefits.