Let us take but a hasty view of the consequences of divorce in ancient times. Turn only to pagan Greece and Rome, two peoples that practiced divorce most extensively. In both we find divorce weakening their primitive virtue and making their latter corruption more corrupt. Among the Greeks morality declined as material civilization advanced, Divorce grew easy and common, and purity and peace were banished from the family circle. Among the Romans divorce was not common until the latter days of the Republic. Then the flood-gates of immorality were opened, and, with divorce made easy, came rushing in corruption of morals among both sexes and in every walk of life. "Passion, interest, or caprice," Gibbon, the historian, tells us, "suggested daily motives for the dissolution of marriage; a word, a sign, a message, a letter, the mandate of a freedman, declared the separation; the most tender of human connections was degraded to a transient society of profit or pleasure. " ("Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire," Milman's Ed. Vol. III., p. 236.) Each succeeding generation witnessed moral corruption more general, moral degradation more profound; men and women were no longer ashamed of licentiousness; until at length the nation that became mighty because built on a pure family fell when its corner-stone crumbled away in rottenness.
The strength and well being of a society is largely determined by the capacity of its members to work cooperatively together towards common goals (a common good). The most significant disruption of this strength is related to the integrity of human character with regard to how we relate to and work with one another. Socrates spent most of his life in the context of Athenian democracy. In Socrates' Athens, the role of the citizen was much more central to the functioning of Athenian democracy than it is in the democratic republic of the .. Male citizens were required to participate in their government through mandatory military service and through their participation (randomly chosen) on the council. The ability of all citizens to relate to one another with integrity was of the utmost importance because acquiring a high position in the government was possible for any male citizen who was at least 30 years old. When Socrates asked questions such as "What is justice?" or "What is virtue?", he was not interested in academic abstractions. Socrates' goal was to learn what it meant to live as a just and virtuous citizen. This was of the utmost importance to Socrates because he knew that the good character of individuals contributed directly to the survival and well being of his whole society. When the learning and thinking habits of the people become slack, that is, when the masses do not live examined lives, democracy becomes a fast road to tyranny. When the justice and skillful virtue of the human character of individual citizens is harmed, society is harmed. This reality underlays Socrates' comment in Plato's Republic (564a) that, "tyranny is probably established out of no other regime than democracy...the greatest and most savage slavery out of the extreme of freedom."