This phrase translates the Latin phrase aurea mediocritas, which comes from the Roman poet Horace's Odes.
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a golden age
a period in the past when things were at their best, happiest or most successful
According to Greek and Roman mythology, the Golden Age was the earliest and best age of the world when human beings lived in a state of perfect happiness.
The Ages of Silver, Brass and Iron represented successive stages of a descent into barbarism and misery.
a golden calf
something, especially wealth, as an object of excessive or unworthy worship
In the Bible, the golden calf was a statue 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 - chapter 32).
a golden handshake
a sum of money paid by an employer to a retiring or redundant employee
On the same principle, the phrase a golden hello was coined in the late 20th century. It is explained in an Appointments section of the New Scientist in 1998 : Employers, especially in the financial sector, are offering golden hellos. These are advances of up to £2000, sometimes given on acceptance of a job offer or with the first month's salary.
the golden section
the division of a line so that the whole is to the greater part as that part is to the smaller part
This is a mathematical term for a proportion known since the 4th century and mentioned in the works of the Greek mathematician Euclid. It has been called by several names, but the mid 19th-century German one goldene Schnitt, translating Latin sectio aurea, has given rise to the current English term.