“Metamorphoses” (The Brazen Age / The Iron Age ) – Ovid


     British Industries. Steel 


              Richard Jack





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,

however ignominiously

          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  

pilferers, plunderers 


          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; 


immoralities follow

          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