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I need it for a story. I cannot use 'era when the gods walked amongst men' every time. So, is there a word in native English or borrowed from another language which has the same or a similar meaning? I can make one up but would prefer to use a existing word if possible. A two or three word phrase will also work.

Edit: Religion is a fictional one, in which Gods used to actively interact with mortals. They used to teach, bless and wage war alongside humans.

Edit: Just to clarify, I am for looking for existing words or phrases that have similar or same meaning as the phrase in question.

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8 Answers 8

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Based on the research of Cassiebratt, that there doesn't seem to be a single fit word to describe such an era, here are two more suggestions:

  • Age of Theophany

with:

Theophany, (from Greek theophaneia, “appearance of God”), manifestation of deity in sensible form. From: https://www.britannica.com/topic/theophany

  • Age of Incarnations

with

Incarnation literally means embodied in flesh or taking on flesh. It is the conception and the embodiment of a deity or spirit in some earthly form or an anthropomorphic form of a god. From: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incarnation

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  • Nice one, theophany seems fitting
    – paddotk
    Commented May 30 at 7:35
  • Theophany only conveys the idea that the god(s) appear sometime in some form, and is compatible with that being something rare and limited to unusual circumstances. It thus doesn't quite have the flavour of 'the gods walking among men', which suggests that the interaction between gods and men was frequent and intertwined with day-to-day life.
    – jsw29
    Commented May 31 at 22:05
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Age of Gods

Implies that the Gods are no longer present in the current era, the age of mortals.

Age of Myths

Age of Legends

Age of Heroes

Each of these implies that the past was greater in some way. With modern man reduce no longer heroic, mythic, or legendary. There are no longer mythical creatures.. or gods wandering the world.

Pre-cataclysm

This term is used in Dragonlance to reference the time period before the great cataclysm occurred. When gods talked with man. Vs the current state of affairs where the Gods are silent. No one knows why the gods abandoned mortals. Some posit that mortals pride separated them from the gods... Others posit that the gods gave up on mortals.

I think this term has been reused by several authors.

Pre-sundering.

Perhaps your world went thru the sundering. an event which separated the gods from man.

The era pre-sundering was a better time when gods walked among men. etc...

There are a lot of options.

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    The Age of Heroes / Heroic Age was used this way by Greek historians as one of the five Ages of Men, when there were lots of demigod heroes and gods coming to earth to beget them.
    – Kirt
    Commented May 30 at 18:37
  • @Kirt I am fond of pre-sundering/pre-cataclysm myself... But that just might be my love of Dragonlance talking
    – Questor
    Commented May 30 at 20:33
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Prelapsarian

In Christianity, this means

Of or relating to the condition of innocence before the Fall; innocent, unspoilt, carefree.

The "innocent, unspoilt, & carefree" connotation of the word would not necessarily fit with your meaning. But given that the fall of man does represent a fundamental schism between the human and the divine in Christianity, I think you could re-appropriate the word for your own purposes in your story — particularly if you explained it, and particularly if there was a well-defined event that caused the gods to stop interacting with mortals.

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The most beautiful one by far is a phrase associated with the native Australian cultures,

"the dream time".

Of the thousand other formulations you could use in this "how to write" question, phrases like "the early days", "early times", "the times Before" all work well and are totally ambiguous, and have the quality of suggesting you're hearing how your fictional culture nicknames that era.

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  • Note that Dreamtime generally refers specifically to the Australian aboriginal version of this concept and not to similar concepts from other cultures or religions. Commented May 30 at 22:39
  • Yes, but specificity is readily altered by semantic slippage - if, as a speech community, native speakers of English (or even L2 speakers) decide that we like dreamtime sensu lato enough, I see no impediment to it entering the language in the broad sense.
    – Deipatrous
    Commented May 31 at 6:38
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Antediluvian

In Christian mythology, this is the time after the fall but before Noah's Flood. Perhaps better for your purposes than Michael Seifert's "prelapsarian", since you may be looking for a time period with deific involvement but not a sense of peace and perfection. This is a time of great monsters like Tannin, Behemoth, and Leviathan, and a time when God actively intervened in the world, culminating with Him nearly destroying the world, but ending with a promise not to do so again. Thus after the flood there is a gradual retreat from active intervention in worldly affairs.

As Stuart F says, technically in Christian mythology there is only one God - but that may be the perspective we have now that monotheism has largely won out. For contemporaries it seems strange for God to Command that you have no other gods before Him, and as justification for that because He is a jealous God, if there really was no one else around.

On the other hand, the flood myth itself is both common and global, even if the term Antediluvian is specifically Christian. So within your fictional world you could make clear that before this flood it was common for your gods to walk the earth.

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  • @michaelseifert TY for the edit
    – Kirt
    Commented May 30 at 20:19
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    Don't forget Genesis 6:4's Nephilim ("giants" in the KJV), which are apparently supposed to represent or refer to the mythological heroes of other cultures ("mighty men which were of old, men of renown"). Commented May 30 at 22:44
  • @RobertColumbia Yes, the Giants in the Earth. Also Adam's first wife, the demon Lilith.
    – Kirt
    Commented May 30 at 23:02
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Borrowing from Greek classics, how about Golden Age (when the gods walked amongst men)? It is from Hesiod and is actually used in English (and many other European languages).

First of all [110] the deathless gods who dwell on Olympus made a golden race of mortal men who lived in the time of Cronos when he was reigning in heaven. And they lived like gods [115] without sorrow of heart, remote and free from toil and grief: miserable age rested not on them; but with legs and arms never failing they made merry with feasting beyond the reach of all evils. When they died, it was as though they were overcome with sleep, and they had all good things; for the fruitful earth unforced bare them fruit abundantly and without stint. They dwelt in ease and peace upon their lands with many good things, [120] rich in flocks and loved by the blessed gods.
― Hesiod, Works and Days 109ff, translation Hugh G. Evelyn-White

The word describing them as golden, is the very first word of the verse: χρῡ́σεον (khrȳ́seon, of χρῡ́σεος: khrȳ́seos;), which means literally golden, though what he describes as golden, is ἀνθρώπων (ánthrṓpōn), that is man as in human beings. So it is the [age] of golden men, though the adjective should be understood to describe the quality of the actions, of the age, as performed by those humans, thus a golden age.

You could of course anglicise the Greek word instead: the Khrysean Age?

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    Sure it does allow for it: ánthrṓpōn, ánthrṓpōn. You just have to order the marks in a particular fashion. Using computer-coding named-character notation for the non-ASCII, instead of your o\N{COMBINING ACUTE ACCENT}\N{COMBINING MACRON} ó̄, you need to use any of o\N{COMBINING MACRON}\N{COMBINING ACUTE ACCENT} ṓ or \N{LATIN SMALL LETTER O WITH MACRON}\N{COMBINING ACUTE ACCENT} ṓ or \N{LATIN SMALL LETTER O WITH MACRON AND ACUTE} . Let me know if you need the hexadecimal values for those "named" Unicode characters/codepoints that I've indicated here with \N{....}.
    – tchrist
    Commented May 31 at 17:26
  • @tchrist Aye, I can combine them. The problem is, as is shown in your post too, that for all the instances of ṓ (which here, whilst writing it, displays just fine), they end up having the acute accent shifted way to the right of the letter, in fact positioning themselves taking up an extra letter-space. Your ánthrṓpōn¹, again, though whilst writing the comment displays just fine, ends up being displayed as ánthrō´pōn², which is exactly the same problem I had. (If this is displayed as I expect, 1 and 2 will look the same, though they shouldn’t.
    – Canned Man
    Commented May 31 at 21:08
  • This must be a problem on your side, because as you see in this image it looks fine normally. This can be any number of things, including your operating system, your web browser, your personal settings, the font-substitution algorithm currently active, the fonts/typefaces installed on your computer, and all the many ranked interactions between all of those. U+1E53 LATIN SMALL LETTER O WITH MACRON AND ACUTE is your best bet, but the others I listed are canonically equivalent to that and should all display exactly the same: ṓ. What system are you using?
    – tchrist
    Commented May 31 at 21:19
  • Indeed it does. I asked on meta to figure out how this can be solved: english.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/15797/…
    – Canned Man
    Commented May 31 at 21:29
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When it comes to existing words, Arsenal's suggestion (age of) theophany seems like a good one to me.

If you don't mind something (sort of) made up, you could combine the Latin words 'deus' and 'societas' (god and society) to make up the term 'deusocietas', which IMHO sounds like it could be a real word. After all, you're writing fiction so you can allow yourself some creativity :)

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    That would more likely become deīsocietās, or if talking about gods plural: deōr(s)ocietās (< deōrum + societās), and given how the English word was made, maybe deorociety?
    – Canned Man
    Commented May 31 at 1:22
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Might I suggest Antiquity or the Age of Antiquity?

  1. the ancient past, especially the period before the Middle Ages.
  2. a very great age.

It's an awesome word that can imply that an era was both long ago and filled with marvels.

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  • I don't think Antiquity is sufficiently mythological. The time around the historical Jesus counts as antiquity and was very much a human era.
    – qwr
    Commented May 30 at 20:41

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