Saturn (Latin: Saturnus) was a major Roman god of agriculture and harvest. In medieval times he was known as the Roman god of agriculture, justice and strength; he held a sickle in his left hand and a bundle of wheat in his right. His mother's name was Gaia. His father was Uranus. He was identified in classical antiquity with the Greek deity Cronus, and the mythologies of the two gods are commonly mixed.
Saturn's wife was Ops (the Greek equivalent of Rhea). Saturn was the father of Ceres, Jupiter, Veritas, Pluto, and Neptune, among others. Saturn had a temple on the Forum Romanum which contained the Royal Treasury. Saturn is the namesake of both Saturn, the planet, and Saturday (dies Saturni).
Saturn is often identified with the Greek Cronus. In Hesiod's Theogony, a mythological account of the creation of the universe and Zeus' rise to power, Cronus is mentioned as the son of Uranus (the Greek equivalent of Roman Caelus), the heavens, and Gaia (the Greek equivalent of Terra), the earth. Hesiod is an early Greek poet and rhapsode, who presumably lived around 700 BC. He writes that Cronus seizes power, castrating and overthrowing his father Uranus. However, it was foretold that one day a mighty son of Cronus would in turn overthrow him, and Cronus devoured all of his children when they were born to prevent this. Saturn's wife, Rhea (often identified with the Roman goddess Ops), hid her sixth child, Zeus, on the island of Crete, and offered Cronus a large stone wrapped in swaddling clothes in his place; Cronus promptly devoured it. Zeus later overthrew Cronus and the other Titans, becoming the new supreme ruler of the cosmos.
In the Roman tradition, in memory of the Golden Age of man, a mythical age when Saturn was said to have ruled, a great feast called Saturnalia was held during the winter months around the time of the winter solstice. It was originally only one day long, taking place on December 17, but later lasted one week. During Saturnalia, roles of master and slave were reversed, moral restrictions loosened, and the rules of etiquette ignored. It is thought that the festivals of Saturnalia and Lupercalia were the roots of the carnival year
Mythology of SaturnEdit
In Babylon he was called Ninib and was an agricultural deity. Saturn, called Kronos by the Greeks, was, at the dawn of the Ages of the Gods, the Protector and Sower of the Seed and his wife, Ops, (called Rhea by the Greeks) was a Harvest Helper. Saturn was one of the Seven Titans or Numina and with them, reigned supreme in the Universe. The Titans were of incredible size and strength and held power for untold ages, until they were deposed by Jupiter.
The first inhabitants of the world were the children of Terra (Mother Earth) and Caelus (Father Sky). These creatures were very large and manlike, but without human qualities. They were the qualities of Earthquake, Hurricane and Volcano living in a world where there was yet no life. There were only the irresistible forces of nature creating mountains and seas. They were unlike any life form known to man.
Three of these creatures were monstrously huge with one hundred hands and fifty heads. Three others were individually called Cyclops, because each had only one enormous eye in the middle of their foreheads. Then, there were the Titans, seven of them, formidably large and none of whom were purely destructive. One was actually credited with saving man after creation.
Caelus hated the children with the fifty heads. As each was born he placed it under the earth. Terra was enraged by the treatment of her children by their father and begged the Cyclopes and the Titans to help her put an end to the cruel treatment. Only one Titan, Saturn, responded. Saturn lay in wait for his father and castrated him with his sickle. From Caelus' blood sprang the Giants, a fourth race of monsters, and the Erinyes (the Furies), whose purpose was to punish sinners. They were referred to as "those who walk in darkness" and were believed to have writhing snakes for hair and eyes that cried blood. Though eventually all the monsters were driven from Earth, the Erinyes are to remain until the world is free of sin.
With the deposing of his father, Saturn became the ruler of the Universe for untold ages and he reigned with his sister, Ops, who also became his wife.
It was prophesied that one day Saturn would lose power when one of his children would depose him. To prevent this from happening, each time Ops delivered a child Saturn would immediately devour it. When her sixth child, Jupiter, was born, Ops had him spirited away to the island of Crete. She then wrapped a stone in his swaddling clothes. Her deception was complete when Saturn devoured it, thinking it was the child. When Jupiter was grown, he secured the job of cup-bearer to his father. With the help of Terra, his grandmother, Jupiter fed his father a potion that caused him to vomit up Jupiter's five siblings, Vesta (Hestia), Ceres (Demeter), Juno (Hera), Pluto (Hades), and Neptune (Poseidon).
A devastating war that nearly destroyed the Universe ensued between Saturn and his five brothers and Jupiter and his five brothers and sisters. Jupiter persuaded the fifty headed monsters to fight with him which enabled him to make use of their weapons of thunder, lightning and earthquake. He also convinced the Titan Prometheus, who was incredibly wise, to join his side. With his forces, Jupiter was victorious and the Olympians reigned supreme. Saturn and his brothers were imprisoned in the Tartarus, a dark, gloomy region at the end of the Earth.
In Roman mythology, when Jupiter ascended the throne, Saturn fled to Rome and established the Golden Age, a time of perfect peace and harmony, which lasted as long as he reigned. In memory of the Golden Age, the Feast of Saturnalia was held every year in the winter at the Winter Solstice. During this time no war could be declared, slaves and masters ate at the same table, executions were postponed, and it was a season for giving gifts. This was a time of total abandon and merry making. It refreshed the idea of equality, of a time when all men were on the same level. When the festival ended, the tax collectors appeared and all money owed out to government, landlords, or lenders had to be accounted for.
This is another side to Saturn and its ruling sign, Capricorn: the settling of accounts. The time of the winter solstice is when the Sun enters the sign Capricorn.
Hesiod wrote of the five ages of mankind: Gold, Silver, two ages of Bronze and an age of Iron. The Age of Gold was the purest age, when no labor was required and weather was always pleasant. It was virtually a place of pleasant surroundings and of abundance. Death was not an unpleasant eventuality and people occupied their time in pleasant pursuits. Cronus ruled over this Golden Age.