Ovid’s 4 Ages of Civilization

“Gold * Silver * Bronze * Iron

According to Ovid’s telling of history, our Golden Age was the time when Cronos ruled heaven and when gods lived amongst mankind and no one labored—that time when earth was populated by our hunter-gatherer ancestors. The Silver Age was when Zeus ruled over heaven and mankind was taught agriculture and architecture—which we can tie to the inventions of the Neolithic, around 12,000 BC. The Bronze Age was the time of the first great wars, of temple- and empire-building but also of faith and order, which we can directly connect with the ancient civilizations in Iraq, Egypt, Anatolia, China, and India. The Iron Age is our own time, when nation states were forged and mankind learned to mine, navigate, write, and trade. But, as Ovid notes, mankind also became ‘warlike, greedy, and impious. Truth, modesty and loyalty are nowhere to be found.’”

Excerpted from: Rogerson, Barnaby. Rogerson’s Book of Numbers: The Culture of Numbers–from 1,001 Nights to the Seven Wonders of the World. New York: Picador, 2013.

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