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Saturn (Latin: Saturnus) was a major Roman deity of agriculture and harvest. He was identified in classical antiquity with the Greek deity Cronus, and the mythologies of the two gods are commonly mixed. In Greek mythology, Zeus overthrew Kronos and the Titans at this time of year to establish his own reign. The ancient Romans identifed Zeus with Jupiter and Kronos with Saturn. Saturn taught humans the arts of agriculture and was dedicated to welcoming the germinating impulse of Nature. He had a mythical reign for a time, a utopian era known as the Golden Age. Peace, happiness, and innocence abounded. All men were equal. But the Golden Age ended when Saturn was once again forced out by Jupiter. In his temple in Rome, the feet of Saturn were bound in chains all year long, as a symbol of his defeat. The chains were removed during Saturnalia, the celebration of the return of the Golden Age. Saturn's wife was Ops, Rhea's equivalent – not Magna Mater. Saturn was the father of Ceres, Jupiter, and Veritas, among others. Saturn had a temple on the Forum Romanum which contained the Royal Treasury. Saturn is the namesake of Saturday (dies Saturni), the only day of the week to retain its Roman name in English. The planet Saturn is also named after the Roman god, being the furthest observable planet of the seven classical planets of antiquity.
Cronus, the Father of Zeus [known as Saturn to the Romans]. Cronus, knowing that, one of his children would grow greater than he, swallowed all of them at birth. His queen, the Goddess Rhea, tricked him, [as shown in the adjacent sculpture] by handing him a stone wrapped in swaddling clothes to swallow. The infant Zeus she secreted. Zeus grew to manhood and, as prophesied, made war on his father and overthrew him, casting him down into the depths of Tartarus.
In Hesiod's Theogony, a mythological
account of the creation of the universe and Zeus' rise to power, Saturn is mentioned
as the son of Uranus, the heavens, and Gaia, the earth. Hesiod is an early Greek
poet and rhapsode, who presumably lived around 700 BC. He writes that Saturn
seizes power, castrating and overthrowing his father Uranus. However, it was
foretold that one day a mighty son of Saturn would in turn overthrow him, and
Saturn devoured all of his children when they were born to prevent this. Saturn's
wife, Ops, hid her sixth child on the island of Crete, and offered Saturn a
large stone wrapped in swaddling clothes in his place. Jupiter later overthrew
Saturn and the other Titans, becoming the new supreme ruler of the cosmos.
Although Saturn changed greatly over
time due to the influence of Greek mythology, he was also one of the few distinct
Roman deities to predate and retain elements of his original function. As Thomas
It is impossible for us now to know
at what time the heathen mythology began; but it is certain, from the internal
evidence that it carries, that it did not begin in the same state or condition
in which it ended. All the gods of that mythology, except Saturn, were of modern
invention. The supposed reign of Saturn was prior to that which is called the
heathen mythology, and was so far a species of theism that it admitted the belief
of only one God. Saturn is supposed to have abdicated the govemment in favour
of his three sons and one daughter, Jupiter, Pluto, Neptune, and Juno; after
this, thousands of other gods and demigods were imaginarily created, and the
calendar of gods increased as fast as the calendar of saints and the calendar
of courts have increased since.
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