About the three stages of empire, the three generations. First came the conquerers, unstoppable in war. Then came the administrators, who bound it all together into one apparently unshakable, immortal edifice. Then came the wasters, who knew no responsibility and squandered the capital of their inheritance upon whims and vices.
It is true for more than just empires. For example, Wikipedia seems to be moving from the second stage into the third.