Repeatedly it is stated that this symbolic fourth beast is different from the three before. This “beast” began with the Roman Empire, and of it H. G. Wells, in A Short History of the World, says:
Now this new Roman power which arose to dominate the western world in the second and first centuries B.C. was in several respects a different thing from any of the great empires that had hitherto prevailed in the civilised world. It was not at first a monarchy, and it was not the creation of any one great conqueror. It was not indeed the first of republican empires; . . . But it was the first republican empire that escaped extinction and went on to fresh developments. . . . it was never able to maintain itself in central Asia or Persia because they were too far from its administrative centres. It . . . presently incorporated nearly all the Greek people in the world, and its population was less strongly Hamitic and Semitic than that of any preceding empire . . . So that the Roman Empire was essentially a first attempt to rule a great dominion upon mainly Aryan lines. It was so far a new pattern in history, it was an expanded Aryan republic. . . . The Roman Empire was a growth, an unplanned novel growth; the Roman people found themselves engaged almost unawares in a vast administrative experiment. . . . It was always changing. It never attained to any fixity. In a sense the [administrative] experiment failed. In a sense the experiment remains unfinished, and Europe and America today are still working out the riddles of worldwide statecraft first confronted by the Roman people.—Chapter 33, “The Growth of the Roman Empire,” pages 149-151. Published 1922.
The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom. August 1, 1959 p. 475-476