The Golden Age
According to Hesiod, this was the age when Cronos was in power. It was an age of perfection, of innocence and happiness, in which truth and justice prevailed, not through, force, or power, but through man‚Äôs natural goodness. Labour was not necessary, because the earth freely gave its wealth and riches without labour; warlike instruments did not exist, because peace was in the hearts of men. It was always spring ‚Äì the only season ‚Äì and men were always young; fruit and flowers bloomed without being planted, and milk and wine came from the rivers, the honey flowed from the oak. Death, when it came, was a pleasant sleep, and men were transformed in to good spirits or demons, and were then appointed to watch over men on earth and to guard and guide them.
The Silver Age
An age, despite its name, of suffering hardship, and decay. Zeus introduced the seasons of the year, which meant the displeasure and discomfort of summer heat and winter cold, and he reduced the spring. Houses ‚Äì not necessary in the golden age had to be built, and labour became necessary for man and animal because nature no longer gave its treasures for the asking. The silver age men were strong and powerful, but they were impious, defiant, and mentally weak. When they died, they lived under the earth as spirits, but Zeus did not confer on them immortality, which was one of the gifts of the age of gold.
The Brazen Age
The work of Zeus, when all things were made of brass (or bronze), was a period of war, violence, savagery, and strife, in which strong men ‚Äì stronger than those in the silver age ‚Äì destroyed each other. In this era, when men died, they stayed dead.
The Heroic Age
The age of demigods and heroes. Superior to both the silver and the brazen ages, it is the period associated with the Theban and Trojan Wars.
The Iron Age
The last age and the worst. This followed the heroic age, which is suspiciously modern in its resemblance to later and present-day society. It was not merely a period of struggle and hard labour, but of labour degraded into toil. Crime was common, and all the qualities that we hold up as ideals, truth, modesty, virtue, honour, decency ‚Äì were stifled. Day and night were made miserable by care and worry. Mean and selfish purposes dominated men, who used the earth‚Äôs wealth in mean and selfish ways. The qualities that we are supposed to be ashamed of were the ones that were uppermost: fraud, deceit, violence, and hatred. The world was red with blood, and civil and foreign wars were as common as crime. With the world in such a state, one can hardly blame Zeus for his descision to drown the world and its inhabitants ‚Äì only the fear of setting heaven itself ablaze kept him from starting a fire ‚Äì and to create a new world and race.