But as Nietzsche once wrote, “In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations, and epochs, it is the rule.”
Things are so bad that we do not even realize that literalism itself had a different meaning in past epochs.
1610s, epocha, "point marking the start of a new period in time" (e.g. the founding of Rome, the birth of Christ, the Hegira), from Late Latin epocha, from Greek epokhe "stoppage, fixed point of time," from epekhein "to pause, take up a position," from epi "on" (see epi-) + ekhein "to hold" (see scheme (n.)). Transferred sense of "a period of time" is 1620s; geological usage (not a precise measurement) is from 1802.