What is -- or, perhaps, should be -- surprising, then, is that there is no unambiguous reference to the golden age either in the Carmen Saeculare itself, or in Zanker's description of the ritual of the Ludi Saeculares.
The failure of the Carmen Saeculare to offer any clear proclamation of the return of the golden race is the more striking in that much the same expectations that Zanker raises for his readers concerning the Ludi Saeculares are likely to have been raised in some Roman minds by Vergil's proclamations of the return of the race.
The Ludi Saeculares, still awaited when Vergil died in 19 b.
There existed, then, for Romans who knew their Vergil, the possibility of reading the Ludi Saeculares, when they were held in 17 b.
Apollo Helios/Sol, we remember, was the deity identified by Volcatius as the patron of the new saeculum; and the Sibylline prophecy issued on the occasion of the Ludi Saeculares enjoins sacrifices to `Phoebus Apollo who has also been called the Sun' ([Greek Words Omitted], 16-17).
Here in the Carmen, the goddess is concerned not with one special child mystically linked to mystical plenty, but with the normal and continuing reproduction of the Roman people, looking towards the next Ludi Saeculares.