Golden Age

The term Golden Age (Greek: Χρυσόν Γένος Chryson Genos) comes from Greek mythology and legend and refers to the first in a sequence of four or five (or more) Ages of Man, in which the Golden Age is first, followed in sequence, by the Silver, Bronze, Heroic, and then the present (Iron), which is a period of decline. By extension "Golden Age" denotes a period of primordial peace, harmony, stability, and prosperity. During this age peace and harmony prevailed, humans did not have to work to feed themselves, for the earth provided food in abundance. They lived to a very old age with a youthful appearance, eventually dying peacefully, with spirits living on as "guardians". Plato in Cratylus (397 e) recounts the golden race of humans who came first. He clarifies that Hesiod did not mean literally made of gold, but good and noble.

There are analogous concepts in the religious and philosophical traditions of the South Asian subcontinent. For example, the Vedic or ancient Hindu culture saw history as cyclical, composed of yugas with alternating Dark and Golden Ages. The Kali yuga (Iron Age), Dwapara (Bronze Age), Treta yuga (Silver Age) and Satya yuga (Golden Age) correspond to the four Greek ages. Similar beliefs occur in the ancient Middle East and throughout the ancient world, as well.

In classical mythology the Golden Age was presided over by the deity Astraea, who was identified with Justice. She lived with men until the end of the Silver Age, but in the Brazen Age, when men became violent and greedy, fled to the stars, where she appears as the constellation Virgo, holding the scales of Justice, or Libra.

European Pastoral literary and iconographic tradition often depicted nymphs and shepherds as living a life of rustic innocence and simplicity, untainted by the corruptions of civilization — a continuation of the Golden Age — set in an idealized Arcadia, a region of Greece that was the abode and center of worship of their tutelary deity, goat-footed Pan, who dwelt among them. This idealized and nostalgic vision of the simple life, however, was sometimes contested and even ridiculed, both in antiquity and later on.

Read more about Golden Age:  The Golden Age in Europe: Greece, The Golden Age in Rome: Virgil and Ovid, Political Significance of The Golden Age, "Soft" and "hard" Primitivism in Arcadia, Death of Pan and The Passing of The Golden Age

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Famous quotes containing the words age and/or golden:

    [The public has] the habit now of invalidating opinions emanating from me by reference to my age and infirmities.
    James Madison (1751–1836)

    Is it that mens frayle eyes, which gaze too bold,
    She may entangle in that golden snare:
    Edmund Spenser (1552?–1599)