As I contemplate a workable path forward in the energy industry, I cannot help but think of two other books I read about 10 years ago. The first is “The Works and Days” by Hesiod (circa 700 B.C.), and the second is “Metamorphosis” by Ovid (8 A.D.). These books mention briefly that the world has seen 5 historic ages. Each age getting more and more technologically advanced, bringing new and worse social ills with each progressing step.
- Golden Age – This is basically the Stone Age. People live very simply and are concerned only with farming. Hesiod states, “The fruitful grainland yielded its harvest to them of its own accord; this was great and abundant, while they at their pleasure quietly looked after their works, in the midst of good things – prosperous in flocks, and on friendly terms with the blessed immortals.
- Silver Age – This generation, though not a really bad group of people, starts the descent of civilization downward. According to Hesiod, “. . . by their own foolishness they had troubles, for they were not able to keep away from reckless crime against each other, nor would they worship the gods, nor do sacrifice on the sacred altars of the blessed ones, which is the right-thing among the customs of men . . .”
- Bronze Age – Hesiod says, “The weapons of these men were bronze, of bronze their houses, and they worked as bronzesmiths. There was not yet any black iron. Yet even these, destroyed beneath the hands of each other, went down into the moldering domain of cold Hades . . .”
- Age of Heroes – In this age, the world sees the abominable 10 year Trojan War: “. . . war had taken in ships over the great gulf of the sea, where they also fought for the sake of the lovely-haired Helen. There, for those, the end of death was misted about them.”
- Iron Age – Hesiod claims that, “. . . Zeus will destroy this generation of mortals also, in the time when children, as they are born, grow gray on the temples, when the father no longer agrees with the children, nor children with their father, when a guest is no longer at one with host, nor companion to companion, when your brother is no longer your friend, as he was in the old days. Men will deprive their parents of all rights, as they grow old, and people will mock them too, babbling bitter words against them, harshly, and without shame in the sight of the gods; not even to their aging parents will they give back what once was given. Strong of hand, one man shall seek the city of another. There will be no favor for the man who keeps his oath, for the righteous and the good man, rather men shall give their praise to violence and the doer of evil. Right will be in the arm. Shame will not be. The vile man will crowd his better out, and attack him with twisted accusations and swear an oath to his story. The spirit of Envy, with grim face and screaming voice, who delights in evil, will be the constant companion of wretched humanity . . .” Ovid adds, “. . . husbands prayed for the death of wives; stepmothers made poison a dessert at dinner . . .”
Hesiod and Ovid, along with many other writers, ancient and recent, are all trying to say the same thing: the simple life is what brings peace and happiness. The desire for luxury brings advancements in technology, and ultimately sadness and tears. I might add that the iron sword could cut through the bronze sword – iron was the weapon of mass destruction for its day.
But I have to be realistic, Pandora’s box is already open, and the technological genie is out of the bottle. So, where do we go from here? I hope to answer that in the next and final part. Stay tuned.