Workshop 'The Return of the Golden Age'

Home > Events > Workshop 'The Return of the Golden Age'
Workshop 'The Return of the Golden Age'

The Anchoring Innovation Work Package 6 ‘Reception of Antiquity’ is looking for contributions to a workshop on the reception of golden age rhetoric from Antiquity up to the 21st century.

We plan to organize our workshop in different phases. The first stage consists in an exploratory brainstorm discussion on Friday 25 June 2021, for which we ask our contributors to prepare a 5-10 minute pitch. A topic (a few lines) can be sent to the organizers by 21 May (via

All participants will be asked to further elaborate their topic for a presentation during the second workshop, to be held at the Royal Netherlands Institute in Rome (KNIR) in 2022 (date TBA).

We are interested in the question how, throughout history, ‘New Golden Ages’ have been proclaimed by a process of anchoring these ‘New Ages’ in Antiquity. Based on the situation in the Renaissance, our assumption is that they are anchored in Antiquity in two ways, that are regularly combined:

  • first, by suggesting that this New Age brings back an ancient Golden Age (e.g. the rule of Augustus)
  • second, by fashioning the return of a former Golden Age in the same manner as in Antiquity Golden Ages have been proclaimed and envisaged (e.g. by referring to Vergil’s fourth eclogue).

By means of the first method, the New Golden Age is anchored in a (more or less specific) period in Antiquity; by means of the second, the New Golden Age is anchored by means of an ancientDenkform that presupposes a cyclical vision of history as attested in classical literature. In addition, at least in the Renaissance, the Golden Age rhetoric was intricately connected to Christian eschatology and messianism.

Although the idea and rhetoric of the return of the Golden Age is widespread and numerous casestudies have been devoted to this topic, there are no comparative studies that analyze the common threads and malleability of this rhetoric, neither do they distinguish between the two types of anchoring that form its foundation.

By means of studying a wide range of such proclamations of New Golden Ages, in different periods, starting from Antiquity itself, we aim to get a clearer view on, among others, the following sub questions:

  • What periods from Antiquity (incl. ancient mythology or sacred history) are regularly singled out as the Golden Age in which New Golden Ages are anchored? On which texts are these images of the original Golden Age based (e.g. Hesiod’s Works and Days; Ovid’s Metamorphoses 1)?
  • Which ancient texts, or other cultural expressions, offer a model for proclaiming a New Golde Age (e.g. Vergil’s Aeneid 6, biblical prophecies)? How are these models adapted to the new context?
  • Which metaphors are employed to envisage the circular vision of history?
  • What type of calculations are employed to legitimize the start of a New Golden Age?
  • Does golden age rhetoric always imply a circular vision of history (the return of an older Golden Age in a new context)? Or in other words: does our assumption on the two-way anchoring also
    hold for other periods?
  • How do insights from Reception Studies and the Anchoring Innovation project help us think about the process and rhetoric of Golden Ages returned? Specifically, how do such proclamations not only frame the New Golden Age, but the former Golden Age as well?

Susanne de Beer & Louis Verreth

If you want to participate in the workshop, which will be held in Rome in 2022 (exact dates t.b.a.), please join us for the explanatory brainstorm discussion on Friday 25 June 2021. For this brainstorm discussion, you will prepare a 5-10 minute pitch.

Please send an e-mail with your name and topic (explained in a few lines) to in order to register (deadline: 21 May).