Ovid's Metamorphoses : The Golden, Silver, Iron  Ages

                             First was the Golden Age. Then rectitude
                             spontaneous in the heart prevailed, and faith.
                             Avengers were not seen, for laws unframed
                             were all unknown and needless. Punishment
                             and fear of penalties existed not.
                      125  No harsh decrees were fixed on brazen plates.
                             No suppliant multitude the countenance
                             of Justice feared, averting, for they dwelt
                             without a judge in peace. Descended not
                             the steeps, shorn from its height, the lofty pine,
                      130 cleaving the trackless waves of alien shores,
                             nor distant realms were known to wandering men.
                             The towns were not entrenched for time of war;
                             they had no brazen trumpets, straight, nor horns
                             of curving brass, nor helmets, shields nor swords.
                      135 There was no thought of martial pomp --secure
                             a happy multitude enjoyed repose.
                             Then of her own accord the earth produced
                             a store of every fruit. The harrow touched
                             her not, nor did the plowshare wound
                      140 her fields. And man content with given food,
                             and none compelling, gathered arbute fruits
                             and wild strawberries on the mountain sides,
                             and ripe blackberries clinging to the bush,
                             and corners and sweet acorns on the ground,
                      145 down fallen from the spreading tree of Jove.
                             Eternal Spring! Soft breathing zephyrs soothed
                             and warmly cherished buds and blooms, produced
                             without a seed. The valleys though unplowed
                             gave many fruits; the fields though not renewed
                      150 white glistened with the heavy bearded wheat:
                             rivers flowed milk and nectar, and the trees,
                             the very oak trees, then gave honey of themselves.
                             When Saturn had been banished into night
                             and all the world was ruled by Jove supreme,
                      155 the Silver Age, though not so good as gold
                             but still surpassing yellow brass, prevailed.
                             Jove first reduced to years the Primal Spring,
                             by him divided into periods four,
                             unequal,--summer, autumn, winter, spring.--
                      160 then glowed with tawny heat the parched air,
                             or pendent icicles in winter froze
                             and man stopped crouching in crude caverns, while
                             he built his homes of tree rods, bark entwined.
                             Then were the cereals planted in long rows,
                      165 and bullocks groaned beneath the heavy yoke.
                             The third Age followed, called The Age of Bronze,
                             when cruel people were inclined to arms
                             but not to impious crimes. And last of all
                             the ruthless and hard Age of Iron prevailed,
                      170 from which malignant vein great evil sprung;
                             and modesty and faith and truth took flight,
                             and in their stead deceits and snares and frauds
                             and violence and wicked love of gain,
                             succeeded.--Then the sailor spread his sails
                      175 to winds unknown, and keels that long had stood
                             on lofty mountains pierced uncharted waves.
                             Surveyors anxious marked with metes and bounds
                             the lands, created free as light and air:
                             nor need the rich ground furnish only crops,
                      180 and give due nourishment by right required,--
                             they penetrated to the bowels of earth
                             and dug up wealth, bad cause of all our ills,--
                             rich ores which long ago the earth had hid
                             and deep removed to gloomy Stygian caves:
                      185 and soon destructive iron and harmful gold
                             were brought to light; and War, which uses both,
                             came forth and shook with sanguinary grip
                             his clashing arms. Rapacity broke forth--
                             the guest was not protected from his host,
                      190 the father in law from his own son in law;
                             even brothers seldom could abide in peace.
                             The husband threatened to destroy his wife,
                             and she her husband: horrid step dames mixed
                             the deadly henbane: eager sons inquired
                      195 their fathers, ages. Piety was slain:
                             and last of all the virgin deity,
                             Astraea vanished from the blood-stained earth.
                             And lest ethereal heights should long remain
                             less troubled than the earth, the throne of Heaven
                      200 was threatened by the Giants; and they piled
                             mountain on mountain to the lofty stars.
                             But Jove, omnipotent, shot thunderbolts
                             through Mount Olympus, and he overturned
                             from Ossa huge, enormous Pelion.
                      205 And while these dreadful bodies lay overwhelmed
                             in their tremendous bulk, (so fame reports)
                             the Earth was reeking with the copious blood
                             of her gigantic sons; and thus replete
                             with moisture she infused the steaming gore
                      210 with life renewed. So that a monument
                             of such ferocious stock should be retained,
                             she made that offspring in the shape of man;
                             but this new race alike despised the Gods,
                             and by the greed of savage slaughter proved
                      215 a sanguinary birth.