“Metamorphoses” (The Brazen Age / The Iron Age ) – Ovid
“British Industries. Steel“
The Brazen Age
To this came next in course, the brazen age:
A warlike offspring, prompt to bloody rage,
Not impious yet…
brazen, of brass, the pride, and collective
title, of the military, not to mention of
industrialists, CEOs, still
yet…., or the Iron Age, follows
The Iron Age
Hard steel succeeded then:
And stubborn as the metal, were the men.
Truth, modesty, and shame, the world forsook:
Fraud, avarice, and force, their places took.
remember conscience, from the Golden Age,
now, during this Iron Age, “fors[aken]”
Then sails were spread, to every wind that blew.
Raw were the sailors, and the depths were new:
note “sails” here, a perfect example of a
metonymy, where the word means not
only the cloth, the canvas that catches
the wind, but also its larger self, the
ship, which benefits from that integral
propulsive action, like the body the
Trees, rudely hollow’d, did the waves sustain;
hollowed out trees could manage to
remain above the water, could float
E’re ships in triumph plough’d the watry plain.
our archetype here would again be Columbus,
Then land-marks limited to each his right:
For all before was common as the light.
though all land had earlier been common,
available to all to freely enjoy, now fences,
signposts prohibited collective access
Nor was the ground alone requir’d to bear
Her annual income to the crooked share,
crooked, awry, disproportionate
But greedy mortals, rummaging her store,
Digg’d from her entrails first the precious oar;
“greedy mortals”, mining, not only from
“the ground alone”, but from the earth’s
very “entrails”, her “oar”, or ore
Which next to Hell, the prudent Gods had laid;
And that alluring ill, to sight display’d.
the “prudent Gods” had set the precious
metals near that unholy place to ward off,
however ineffectually, eventually, potential
Thus cursed steel, and more accursed gold,
Gave mischief birth, and made that mischief bold:
or again “Truth, modesty, and shame, the
world forsook: / Fraud, avarice, and force,
their places took.“, lines 3 and 4 from the
And double death did wretched Man invade,
By steel assaulted, and by gold betray’d,
double death, assault and betrayal, invade,
become components, properties, of Man
Now (brandish’d weapons glittering in their hands)
Mankind is broken loose from moral bands;
No rights of hospitality remain:
The guest, by him who harbour’d him, is slain,
The son-in-law pursues the father’s life;
The wife her husband murders, he the wife.
The step-dame poyson for the son prepares;
The son inquires into his father’s years.
the stuff, at present, of all of our arts and
literature, of our collective consciousness,
we are the Iron Age
Faith flies, and piety in exile mourns;
And justice, here opprest, to Heav’n returns.
“justice” has flown, fled, to Heaven,
to our universal, and grievous,
R ! chard