28th, November 2013
The Ages of Mankind in Hesiod’s Works and Days and Ovid’s Metamorphoses
In both books Hesiod’s Works and Days and Ovid’s Metamorphoses recount a tale of ages. These are the ages of mankind, which are told at different eras of time, with similar features and elements presented by both authors. Differences arise in the tale of the ages amongst the two storytellers as well. These similarities and differences allow the deciphering of the tales to hold differences in the value of the ages of mankind. Raising key similarities in the Gold, Silver and Bronze Ages both Ovid and Hesiod tell a different meaning on how the ages that precede them affect the rest of mankind. The Heroic and Iron Ages are important in the continuation of both stories, the tale of creation and mankind, and the view of the world to the Greeks and Romans during Hesiod and Ovid’s time.
In Hesiod’s book, the Five Ages of mankind start with an age of Gold. This age is the start of “how mortal men and the gods came to be from one source” (W&D 108). Hesiod tells how the men were the first to speak and brought language and a sense of communication amongst one another into the world. The comparisons of these men living like gods and having no troubles, they did not age and death came peacefully as sleep (W&D 112-117). The men did not have to work for food as crops were in plenty as they were considered blessings. This gives the comparison of gods and men living alike at a point in time. The Golden age was ruled by Cronus while he was in power and considered king of the Gods (W&D 111). In Ovid’s Metamorphoses the first age is also considered of gold value, with all attention focused to the heart and soul of the men present. Honour and good faith were the laws of the time; men knew no punishment, no penalty, no judging, and no war or fighting (Ovid 91-98). Ovid explains men and earth to be a “world untroubled lived in leisured...
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