Metamorphoses Book 1: The Ages of Mankind
During the golden age, mankind lived in harmony with nature. The earth provided all that man needed to live, and there was no need to farm or to work. War was unknown and all men were faithful and righteous, content with the land that they knew and unmoved to seek out new territory. The golden age was a constant springtime of pleasure, peace, and contentment.
When Saturn was overthrown by his son, Jupiter, the silver age began. Jupiter (Jove) introduced man to summer, autumn, and winter, and these climate changes forced men to seek shelter and to harvest the land for their food.
"Third in succession came the race of bronze, / Of fiercer temperament, more readily / Disposed to war, yet free from wickedness." Book 1 -- The Ages of Mankind, line 125-7
Treachery, deceit, and greed marked the Iron Age that followed. Men began to seek out new territories, mine for wealth, and battle each other for the spoils of war. Earth was a realm of murder and mayhem and the last of the immortals fled, but even the heavens were not safe. In their lust for power, giants born of the earth piled Mount Pelion on top of Mount Ossa in an attempt to reach Mount Olympus, the domain of the gods. Jove struck them down with his lightning and destroyed them, but it is said that their remains were fashioned into human form just as evil as the other men of the age.
Jove was so disgusted with the depravity of mankind that he called a meeting of the gods and goddesses to determine what to do with the degenerate mortals. Jove swore by the river Styx that he had tried everything to purge the evil from mankind, but that the only solution was to destroy the human race in order to save the earth itself.
Jove told the collect of immortals how he had descended from Olympus and walked the earth in mortal disguise to determine the severity of mankind's ruin. He went to the palace of Lycaon, where the mortal greeted the disguised god with disbelief and scorn. Although Jove had made his true identity obvious to the mortals, Lycaon tried to feed him the boiled flesh of a mortal man to test whether or not Jove was a god. As a punishment for Lycaon's impudent action, Jove destroyed the man's home and turned him into a wolf.
Jove sentenced all mankind to death for their sins and promised that a greater race of humanity would be created after this first race was destroyed. He sent a flood to wipe out the first race of mankind.