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A prominent theme in Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain is that redemption from the brutality of war may be achieved by retreat from the “metal face” of the contemporary age and return to a healing agricultural work ethic. In this context, the author makes recurrent reference to the classical topic of the “Golden Age,” a lost paradise on earth. He introduces this topic first as it appeared in Hesiod’s Works and Days, expressive of a profoundly pessimistic view that human history has been one long deterioration. As his protagonist’s physical and psychic homeward journey nears completion, though, he invokes the more hopeful vision put forward in Virgil’s Georgics – that the Golden Age may return, bringing contentment in place of vain strivings and peace in place of war, at least to those who make the moral choice to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature and to toil for generative, rather than destructive, purposes.


Author's post-print version of article that appeared in International Journal of the Classical Tradition, 17.2 (2010): 244-256. Published version available here:


International Society for the Classical Tradition



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