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Often used figuratively to convey an idea of supremely special quality.

golden age an idyllic, often imaginary past time of peace, prosperity, and happiness; originally, the Greek and Roman poets' name for the first period of history, when the human race lived in an ideal state, and which was succeeded by the silver, brazen, and iron ages.

golden apple in Greek mythology, a fruit from the apples of the Hesperides, the apple of discord, or one of the apples thrown down to distract Atalanta.

The Golden Ass a prose narrative (Metamorphoses) of the 2nd century by Apuleius, a picaresque novel which recounts the adventures of a man who is transformed into an ass, and which depicts in particular the practices of ancient religious mysteries.

The Golden Bough the title of a book (1890–1915) by the Scottish anthropologist James George Frazer, proposing an evolutionary theory of the development of human thought, from the magical and religious to the scientific, and focusing particularly on the figure of the sacrificial king who dies and is reborn. The title came from Virgil's Aeneid, ‘the double tree that bears the golden bough’ in Dryden's translation (1697); Aeneas is told by the Sibyl that he must find and pick the branch before he can safely journey to the underworld.

the golden bowl is broken a biblical metaphor for death, deriving from Ecclesiastes, ‘Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern.’

golden calf in the Bible, an image of gold in the shape of a calf, made by Aaron in response to the Israelites' plea for a god while they awaited Moses' return from Mount Sinai, where he was receiving the Ten Commandments (Exodus 32), and which Moses destroyed; in extended usage, a false god, especially wealth as an object of worship.

Golden Fleece in Greek mythology, the fleece of the golden-fleeced ram which rescued Helle and her brother (see Hellespont), which was guarded by an unsleeping dragon, and sought and won by Jason with the help of Medea.The Order of the Golden Fleece was an order of knighthood instituted at Bruges in 1430 by Philip the Good, duke of Burgundy. The right of investiture in the order of the Golden Fleece belonged (after 1700) to the sovereigns of Austria and Spain.

Golden Gate a deep channel connecting San Francisco Bay with the Pacific Ocean, spanned by the Golden Gate suspension bridge (completed 1937).

golden goal in some soccer and hockey competitions, the first goal scored during extra time which ends the match and gives victory to the scoring side.

golden goose in a traditional fairytale, a goose which laid golden eggs; it was killed in an attempt to possess the source of this wealth, which as a result was lost. The phrase is now used for a continuing source of wealth or profit that may be exhausted if it is misused.

golden handshake a substantial payment given to someone who is made redundant or retires early.


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