Beware the reindeer, the lurking north. Beware the unhappy worker, utterly universal in her discontent.
It is unlikely that great Rome, or any stand-in for such a powerful, decaying empire, would fear animal or discontented worker. And in its oblivion to danger lies the seeds of trouble, or smouldering coals of, I don't know, conflagration, mongrel hordes, invasion.
Everything must end; those granted poetic hindsight, those who have lived through world wars, as did Auden, can gorgeously dally with reasons. You can find a wonderful discussion of this poem at The Wondering Minstrels.
The Fall Of Rome
The piers are pummelled by the waves; In a lonely field the rain Lashes an abandoned train; Outlaws fill the mountain caves. Fantastic grow the evening gowns; Agents of the Fisc pursue Absconding tax-defaulters through The sewers of provincial towns. Private rites of magic send The temple prostitutes to sleep; All the literati keep An imaginary friend. Cerebrotonic Cato may Extol the Ancient Disciplines, But the muscle-bound Marines Mutiny for food and pay. Caesar's double-bed is warm As an unimportant clerk Writes I DO NOT LIKE MY WORK On a pink official form. Unendowed with wealth or pity, Little birds with scarlet legs, Sitting on their speckled eggs, Eye each flu-infected city. Altogether elsewhere, vast Herds of reindeer move across Miles and miles of golden moss, Silently and very fast.
W. H. Auden, 1947