How happy was that earlier age
When men content depended on the trusty land,
And not yet sunk in idle luxury
Sated their hunger only at their need
With acorns gathered with ease.
They had not learned to mix
Wine with clear honey;
Nor to dye shining silken stuffs
With Tyrian purple.
The greensward gave them healthy sleep,
The gliding river water for their thirst,
And the tall pine a shadow from the sun.
Not yet did they cut deep waters with their ships,
Nor seeking trade abroad
Stand strangers on an unknown shore.
There was no sound of savage bugle-calls,
Nor had men’s blood been shed in bitter hate
Staining the scrubby fields.
For why should any man in furious enmity
Want to strike first
When he could see what cruel wounds would come
With no reward for blood?
Would that our present times
Would now return to those good ancient ways!
But fiercer now than Etna’s fires
Burns the hot lust for gain.
Ah who was he
Who first dug out those perilous precious things—
Nuggets of gold, which had lain concealed,
And gems, far better hid?
Boethius (c. 420 – 524 AD), The Consolation of Philosophy, Book II