digplanet beta 1: Athena
Share digplanet:


Applied sciences






















This article is about mythological ages. For the "Seven Ages of Man" speech from Shakespeare's "As You Like It", see All the world's a stage. For the one-man show, see Ages of Man (play).
Lucas Cranach the Elder, The Golden Age

The Ages of Man are the stages of human existence on the Earth according to Greek mythology.

Both Hesiod and Ovid offered accounts of the successive ages of humanity, which tend to progress from an original, long-gone age in which humans enjoyed a nearly divine existence to the current age of the writer, in which humans are beset by innumerable pains and evils. In the two accounts that survive from ancient Greece and Rome, this degradation of the human condition over time is indicated symbolically with metals of successively decreasing value.[citation needed]

Hesiod's Five Ages[edit]

Lucas Cranach the Elder, The Silver Age
Virgil Solis, The Iron Age

The first extant account of the successive ages of humanity comes from the Greek poet Hesiod's Works and Days (lines 109–201). His list is:

  • Golden Age – The Golden Age is the only age that falls within the rule of Cronus. Created by the immortals who live on Olympus, these humans were said to live among the gods, and freely mingled with them. Peace and harmony prevailed during this age. Humans did not have to work to feed themselves, for the earth provided food in abundance. They lived to a very old age but with a youthful appearance and eventually died peacefully. Their spirits live on as "guardians". Plato in Cratylus (397e) recounts the golden race of men who came first. He clarifies that Hesiod did not mean men literally made of gold, but good and noble. He describes these men as daemons upon the earth. Since δαίμονες (daimones) is derived from δαήμονες (daēmones, meaning knowing or wise), they are beneficent, preventing ills, and guardians of mortals.
  • Silver Age – The Silver Age and every age that follows fall within the rule of Cronus' successor and son, Zeus. Men in the Silver age lived for one hundred years under the dominion of their mothers. They lived only a short time as grown adults, and spent that time in strife with one another. During this Age men refused to worship the gods and Zeus destroyed them for their impiety. After death, humans of this age became "blessed spirits" of the underworld.
  • Bronze Age – Men of the Bronze Age were hardened and tough, as war was their purpose and passion. Zeus created these humans out of the ash tree. Their armor was forged of bronze, as were their homes, and tools. The men of this Age were undone by their own violent ways and left no named spirits; instead, they dwell in the "dank house of Hades". This Age came to an end with the flood of Deucalion.
  • Heroic Age – The Heroic Age is the one age that does not correspond with any metal. It is also the only age that improves upon the age it follows. In this period men lived with noble demigods and heroes. It was the heroes of this Age who fought at Thebes and Troy. This race of humans died and went to Elysium.
  • Iron Age – Hesiod finds himself in the Iron Age. During this age humans live an existence of toil and misery. Children dishonor their parents, brother fights with brother and the social contract between guest and host (xenia) is forgotten. During this age might makes right, and bad men use lies to be thought good. At the height of this age, humans no longer feel shame or indignation at wrongdoing; babies will be born with gray hair and the gods will have completely forsaken humanity: "there will be no help against evil."

Ovid's Four Ages[edit]

The Roman poet Ovid (1st century BC – 1st century AD) tells a similar myth of Four Ages in Book 1.89–150 of the Metamorphoses. His account is similar to Hesiod's with the exception that he omits the Heroic Age.

Ovid emphasizes the justice and peace that defined the Golden Age. He adds that in this age, men did not yet know the art of navigation and therefore did not explore the larger world, no man had knowledge of any arts but pre arigculture

In the Silver Age, Jupiter introduces the seasons and men consequentially learn the art of agriculture and architecture.

In the Bronze Age, Ovid writes, men were prone to warfare, but not impiety.

Finally, in the Iron Age, men demarcate nations with boundaries; they learn the arts of navigation and mining; they are warlike, greedy and impious. Truth, modesty and loyalty are nowhere to be found.

Historicity of the Ages[edit]

These mythological ages are sometimes associated with historical timelines. In the chronology of Saint Jerome the Golden Age lasts ca. 1710 to 1674 BC, the Silver Age 1674 to 1628 BC, the Bronze Age 1628 to 1472 BC, the Heroic Age 1460 to 1103 BC, while Hesiod's Iron Age was considered as still ongoing by Saint Jerome in the 4th century AD.[1]

See also[edit]

Similar concepts include:


  1. ^ St. Jerome. "St. Jerome, Chronicle (2004-5). Preface of Jerome; Preface of Eusebius". Tertullian.org. Retrieved 2012-11-16. 

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ages_of_Man — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.
632407 videos foundNext > 


Benedict Cumberbatch reads Shakespeare's 'The Seven Ages of Man'

Morgan Freeman--Seven Ages of Man

From the Tony Awards. The Oscar-winning actor delivers the famous speech from Shakespeare's "As You Like It"

Seven Ages of Man

The Seven Ages Of Man- William Shakespeare

The Seven Ages Of Man - By Alina F. Music: Secret Garden - The Promise.

William Shakespeare's 7 ages of man

A reading from William Shakespeare's play As You Like It, Act II Scene VII, Jaques: "All the world's a stage..." animated in Claymation (thanks, My Own Morph and Plasticine). Basically, a test piece.

Hilding Rosenberg - Symphony No.3 "The Four ages of Man" (1939)

Hilding Rosenberg Work: Symphony No.3 "The Four ages of Man" (1939) Mov.I: Moderato 00:00 Mov.II: Andante sostenuto 12:52 Mov.III: Allegro con fuoco, molto marcato 21:31 Mov.IV: Andante ...

"Seven Ages of Man - All the World's a Stage" by William Shakespeare (read by Tom O'Bedlam)

This speech is from Act II, scene vii of "As You Like It". These days the inevitability of old age is not quite so certain - as archy the cockroach observed in 1927: the old fashioned grandmothe...

Game of Thrones: Seven Ages of Man

Just in time for the premier of season 5: a tribute to this masterful show and the book series it's based upon. Video: Game of Thrones, seasons 1-4 Audio: "A Lifetime of Original British...

Kila - Caislean Ui Cheallaigh/Tam Lin/Four Ages of Man

Kíla Handel's Fantasy 09 - Caislean Ui Cheallaigh/Tam Lin/Four Ages of Man.

632407 videos foundNext > 

1828 news items

Toronto Star

Toronto Star
Sat, 25 Apr 2015 05:56:15 -0700

The semi-autobiographical novels of Elena Ferrante and Karl Ove Knausgaard are piled in front of me on a kitchen scale. Together they weigh two kilograms, stand as high as a hedge and are so good they make other writers sigh heavily and wonder about ...

Daily Review

Daily Review
Fri, 24 Apr 2015 19:15:00 -0700

At least outgoing company artistic director John Bell is good as the world-weary Jaques; he does the great 'seven ages of man' speech very plain and natural-like with an air of unaffected gravity. But I wonder if those morose moods of this monsieur ...


Fri, 24 Apr 2015 11:33:45 -0700

Its imagery may even be taken as a contemporary rendition of the ancient 'ages of man' trope—tracing our passage from the wonderment of childhood, to the fecundity of adulthood, to our eventual demise. This conceptually complex and fundamentally ...


Mon, 20 Apr 2015 11:00:00 -0700

Students put forth creative and dynamic performances; their group piece is a five-minute mash-up of seven plays showing the “seven ages of man.” The 2015 OPRF Battle of the Bard Slam Team is Sophia Carlin, Kelly Cerniglia, Colin Ford, Dallas Koelling, ...


Wed, 15 Apr 2015 08:00:00 -0700

Wall murals depicting Shakespeare's Seven Ages of Man will be spared when the old high school is demolished in May. The mosaics, crafted into the front wall of the school, will be moved across Chester Road, to the front lawn of the new campus. During ...
Military Technologies
Mon, 13 Apr 2015 08:00:00 -0700

Ages of Man, available for the first time on CD, will be released exclusively for purchase via MasterworksBroadway.com on June 16 in a limited quantity of Manufacture-On-Demand CDs as well as digital download. The CD will be available through Arkiv ...
Broadway World
Fri, 10 Apr 2015 09:07:30 -0700

Ages of Man, available for the first time on CD, will be released exclusively for purchase via MasterworksBroadway.com on June 16 in a limited quantity of Manufacture-On-Demand CDs as well as digital download. The CD will be available through Arkiv ...

The Independent

The Independent
Thu, 09 Apr 2015 05:22:48 -0700

Dittersdorf's Symphony #1, Four Ages of Man (Les Quatre Ages du monde) greatly emphasize sensuous Italo-Austrian melody instead of motivic development. The sweeping, grand and quietly dignified passages offer an optimistic and peaceful view of the ...

Oops, we seem to be having trouble contacting Twitter

Support Wikipedia

A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia. Please add your support for Wikipedia!

Searchlight Group

Digplanet also receives support from Searchlight Group. Visit Searchlight