Meta-Secondary Creation, Meta-Glorantha, concept of numbered "ages"

Date: Mon, 14 Jan 2002 12:56:06 -0500 (EST)

Okay, I'm going to get meta meta here, in part because of having seen FotR, which prompted me to finally get History of Middle Earth, which reminded me how very few roleplaying worlds approach the depth of Middle Earth, which, of course, reminded me of Glorantha. (Did I miss a meta?)

Anyway, this led me to a meta question:

What appears to be the origin of "numbered ages" for recounting mythic histories? The idea of "explicit ages" is, of course, not new with Tolkien or Stafford.

_Metamorphoses_, if I recall aright, gives us the Golden Age, Silver Age, Bronze Age, and Iron Age, and shoehorns the "Age of Heroes" in between the Bronze and Iron. _Daniel_ presented a somewhat different model of a
"great image, whose brightness was excellent"..."and the form thereof was
terrible. This image's head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, his legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay." The image is interpreted historically, but as a prophecy instead of a history. The *current* period is "of fine gold", and it would be the *future* that would descend instead of the past being the best era and the present being the worst.

Northern creation posits an age before the current, but it is not a
"time" so much as a pre-time, in which things are formed. After that, as
far as I know, it's all just one era.

Christian eschatology posits a very short Edenic period, followed by a "pre-Flood" era, then a "pre-Incarnation" era, then the current era, to be followed by a time after all time ends (essentially taken from the
"Day of the Lord" of Hebrew eschatology).

But are there any sources earlier than Tolkien that go for a "First Age",
"Second Age", "Third Age" situation where they're explicitly known as such?
I'm asking to get some idea of more of the inspirations behind Glorantha.

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