In Hesiod’s poem Works and Days, Hesiod gives his view on the past and the future on mankind. Hesiod says that in the history of the world there have been 5 races of men: Gold, Silver, Bronze, demi-gods, and Iron. He says that the current race of iron will end in tumult and perish.
According to Hesiod, the race of Gold was the best race. The gods made them during the time when Cronos (Zeus’ father) was reigning over them. They lived long and happy lives, and they did not have to work hard. The spent much of their time feasting and peace with many good things. The gods loved them and gave them rich flocks and lives of ease. When they died, they died as if going to sleep, and then became spirits who gave good things to men.
After this, then the Silver race was created by the gods. They were less noble by far compared to the race of gold, and was not like them at all. They were simpletons, and their lives were short because they were simpletons and did not have wisdom. Because of this, they stayed a child at their mother’s side for one hundred years because they were simpletons. They didn’t sacrifice to the gods and were always wronging each other, so Zeus got angry and put them away. When they died, they were known as blessed spirits of the underworld. They had some degree of honor, but not as much as the race of gold.
The race of bronze was very different from the silver race. The race of bronze came from ash-trees, and was mighty and strong. They were violent and fought each other, and they had houses, armor, and other implements of bronze. They had no iron. They were destroyed by each other, and they went to the house of Hades.
The race of the demi-gods was nobler and more righteous, and they were strong and like the gods of olympus. Some of them died in wars, but the rest Zeus brought to another land far from the rest of us. They have no sorrow, the ground bears fruit for them, and it does not seem like they have to work much, if at all. They are ruled by Cronos, the father of Zeus and live on islands on the shore of the ocean and live in honor and glory.
According to Hesiod, the present race of men is the race of Iron. We have to work hard, unlike the race of gold. We also have all sorts of evils that come upon us, even though they are not our fault. He also said that we would become worse and worse, and that we will eventually get into a terrible state of wickedness and strife amongst ourselves. Then, when Aidos and Nemesis leave mankind to go back to the gods, there will be no protection against evil and we will perish. Zeus will eventually destroy us just like he destroyed the silver race.