Saturn, or Kronos

Saturn, Or Kronos,

Was a principal deity in Greek and Roman mythology. The old Italic Saturn, whose name indicates that he was a god of harvests, and the old Grecian Kronos, a thoroughly symbolic being, which, like his brothers, the Titans, is suggestive of the primeval and uniform forces of nature, and has a probable though partial connection with the Phoenician Moloch (q.v.), are deities of two religions which often diverge from each other; and a modern learned mythology, which everywhere intermixes Greek and Roman elements, has met with but indifferent success in the endeavor to combine the two gods into one. Kronos, the son of Uranus and Gæa, was the most cunning of the Titans. His mother had given birth to the Centimani and the Cyclops, and Uranus had confined them in the underworld on account of their monstrous shapes and strength. Enraged by this action, Gæa proposed to her younger children to avenge their brothers; but they all shrank from laying violent hands on their father, with the exception of Kronos, who hid himself, and at night emasculated Uranus and threw the generative organs down upon the earth, thereby fructifying it. Kronos then married the Titaness Rhea, from whom sprang the entire race of the gods who ruled the world. To avoid a prophecy by his parents which foretold that one of his children should dethrone him, he swallowed all his children immediately after their birth, excepting Jupiter, whom Rhea saved by giving Kronos a stone wrapped in cloths instead. The child grew rapidly, and attained in a single year to extraordinary size and strength. Metis (cunning) now gave him an emetic, which he administered to Kronos, with the result that he cast up all the children he had swallowed, together with the stone. The latter was placed for a memorial at the foot of Mount Parnassus, and Jupiter conspired with his brothers and sisters to dethrone their father, whom he mutilated as Uranus had been; but when he sought to secure the throne for himself the Titans resisted, with the result that after ten years' war Jupiter released the Centimani and the Cyclops, and with their aid overcame the Titans, whom he imprisoned in the dungeon where the Cyclops had lain. The division of authority was then determined among the Kronidae by lot, Pluto receiving the earth, Neptune the sea, and Jupiter the heavens and supreme authority over all. The dethroned Kronos or Saturn, it is said, now fled to Italy and inaugurated the golden age. Men lived, like the gods, without care, in uninterrupted happiness, health, and strength; they did not grow old; and to them death was a slumber which relieved them of their present nature and transformed them into daemons. The earth yielded every kind of fruit, and gave up all its treasures without cultivation and labor. Under the reign of Saturn men lived the life of paradise. To keep alive the recollection of this primitive life o( innocence, freedom, and equality, the festival (of the Saturnalia was instituted at Rome, which began on Dec. 17, and continued, first a single day, but afterwards for longer periods, until in the time of the emperors it extended over an entire week. During its continuance all business was interrupted; all distinctions between masters and slaves were laid aside, so that slaves sat at the sumptuous table and masters waited on them, and every form of recreation was allowed. In Greece Kronos or Saturn possessed temples of extremely ancient date. His temple at Rome stood at the foot of the Capitol, and served as an archive of the State and also as its treasury. The god is usually represented as bearing a sickle. The scythe, wings, and hourglass, which are likewise often introduced in such representations, are added notions of more recent date, and resulted from a change in the mode of conceiving of the god. The Persians gave this deity an almost wholly animal representation: the lower parts of the body resemble those of swine, a human body with arms is added, and an animal head with crown completes the figure.

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