Saturn Roman God – Mythology, Symbolism, Meaning and Facts

Roman mythology represents a combination of myths and legends from ancient Greece and it entails stories about various topics. Romans established a religious system with several deities, which are better known as polytheism. Roman myths were often linked to stories and events that happened on daily occasions but they would usually add to them a little bit of magic or surrealism.

When we look at the Roman mythology, we will notice that there are many similarities between the Greeks and the Romans in the way they saw the world. They both have one main deity and several other deities which are protectors of things like agriculture, love, beauty etc. almost everything in the Roman Empire could have been associated with a higher being or deity, which is the reason why almost all ancient stories mention deities and their existence.

The highest deity or the ruling god of all was Jupiter, while all others were lower deities but they still had an important role in the empire. In today’s text, we will be exploring the secret world of Saturn, Roman god of time. If you ever wanted to learn a little bit more about the way this god was portrayed, this is the perfect opportunity to do so.

Mythology and Symbolism

To ancient Romans, Saturn was the god of time, agriculture and liberation. These three things were extremely important and valuable to Romans then, as they are to us now, which is why the Saturn was one of the highest deities in the Roman mythology. Every god in Roman mythology had its reign, even though the supreme god was still Jupiter. In the time of Saturn’s rule, myths tell stories about abundance and wealth which were never seen before. The reign of Saturn was known as the Golden Age which is the reason why the Temple of Saturn housed the state treasury. Saturn was known as the god of abundance and wealth, and many prospered from his rule.

In ancient Rome, the Saturn was seen in the association with the Greek Cronus and in many stories we can see the similarity in which they were described. Romans even derived the Saturn’s genealogy from the Cronus. According to Livius Andronicus, Saturn was seen as the father of Jupiter.

Saturn was the son of the Roman god of the sky Caelus and the Roman goddess of Earth Terra. Their youngest son was Titan. Roman mythology has many awful and terrifying stories, even about their deities. One of these stories is the one of Saturn’s castration of his father, which happened in order for Saturn to gain the rule of the Universe. Saturn threw his testicles in the see and from them the goddess Venus came to life. Saturn married goddess Ops and this is when the Golden Age began.

So, even there is an awful story about Saturn which speaks about the castration of his father and the attempt of rape of his mother, the Saturn still mark one of the wealthiest and more prosperous eras in the Roman history.

The Roman god Saturn, had two consorts, and these two consorts represented the two different sides of this god. Saturn’s wife’s name was Ops, which was according to all stories, an equivalent to the Greek goddess Rhea. Rhea in Greece represented abundance, wealth and resources. Saturn was also associated with Lua, which was the goddess of destruction, loosening and dissolution. This was the goddess who received the bloody weapons of enemies that were destroyed in war.

Saturn’s wife Ops, gave birth to three children Vestia, Jupiter, Neptune, Pluton, Juno and Ceres. But the Saturn ate them all, which is actually an ancient myth about the passing of time. Famous painting, painted by Paul Rubens, where we can see the Saturn eating his children is a cruel representation of passing of the generations.

In times when Saturn ruled Rome, people were living in abundance and they had more than they needed. This period was described in myths as the period of great wealth and it was often associated with the heavenly advantages that humans had in Christianity, while they were living under the rules of God. Period of the Saturn’s rule was often called Saturnalia, and the Greek equivalent was the Kronia.

Saturn’s name was derived from the word ab satu, which “sowing.” This word instantly ties Saturn with the agriculture. There is another epithet that was associated to his agricultural symbolism and that is Sterculius, from stercus, which means “manure.” Agriculture was very important in the Roman Empire and the origin of the name Saturn explains the importance Saturn had for the ancient Rome. Saturn’s name appears in the ancient song of the Salian priests, and his temple was the oldest one, recorded by the pontiffs. Temple was located at the center of the Capitoline Hill, and today a row of columns of this ancient temple still stands today as a reminder of those ancient times.

Saturn’s festival in the Roman calendar led to his link with concepts of time in general, especially the time transition of the New Year. To ancient Romans, Saturnalia represented a transition of light leading to the winter solstice. This was realized based on ancient writings of the Macrobius (5th century AD).

Cronus was often associated linked with the word Chronus, which means “time,” in the Greek mythology and his devouring of his children was taken as a symbol for the passing of generations. Father Time’s sickle is a reminder of the agricultural significance of Cronus-Saturn, and his aged and often old appearance represented the passing of the old year with the birth of the new. Sometimes in antiquity he was embodied by Aion. Saturn is associated with a number of deities, especially in the late antiquity, and the Romans started to depict him as winged, as is Kairos, “Timing, Right Time”.

The cult that worshipped the goddess Ops was developed by King Titus Tatius, a monarch from Sabine. Later Ops became the patroness of wealth, abundance, and prosperity in both personal and spiritual way.

On August 10, a festival took place in the honor of Ops. On December 9, the Opalia was worshipped. And on the August 25, the Opiconsivia was held. The Latin word ops is translated as “riches, goods, abundance, plenty, munificence, wealth”. This word is also associated to opus, meaning “work” and, especially “working with the ground, digging, sowing”. This activity was of old deemed sacred, and was often accompanied by religious ceremonies which intended to obtain the good nature of the deities such as Consus and Ops, etc.

Ops’s temple was located in Capitolium. In most depictions, Ops was pictured sitting down, as chthonian deities normally are depicted, and she usually holds a corn spike as her main addition.

In the memory of the Golden Age of Rome, or the rule of Saturn, very year Saturnalia was celebrated on the December 17th in Saturn’s temple on the Forum Romanum. This temple was located under the Capitoline Hill, and the temple held the Royal Treasury. This temple, like I mentioned earlier, is one of the oldest in Rome. The Saturnalia to Romans was one of the biggest and most important events of the year. Even though it was celebrated originally for one day, it was eventually extended to seven days.

When the festival was at large, work was suspended, masters and slaves replaced the roles, moral restrictions weren’t as harsh and gifts were exchanged between people. Offerings to Saturn were made with uncovered heads, which was contrary to the Roman usual tradition. Even though the festival in his honor was always popular, the Saturn himself was never as popular as this event.

The reason why Saturn was never seen as a positive character is because of his cruelty and awful deeds he did to his family. Stories about eating his children and murdering his father were simply unacceptable to Romans, and they never grew to love Saturn. Even though his period was one of the wealthiest periods, the never became one of the most popular gods among Romans.

Meaning and Facts

Even though the Roman tradition was clear about certain things, they gave offerings to Saturn with their heads uncovered. All other Roman deities were offered with gifts by people who had their heads covered, which actually represented a form of respect towards deities. Contrary to the way he was worshipped, Saturn was usually represented with his head under a veil and holding a sickle.

According to Pliny’s writings the cult statue of the Roman God Saturn was filled with oil. The reason why this was the case was unclear. The Saturn’s feet were usually bound with wool, and the wool was removed only during Saturnalia. Saturn always wore a red cloak, and the statue was brought out of the temple to be a part in ritual processions and lectisternia, banquets at which images of the gods were arranged as guests on couches.

There is little evidence about the existence of the cult of Saturn outside Rome, but his name also resembles that of the Etruscan god Satres. Cruelty of the Saturn was enhanced by his association with Cronus, who was known for devouring of his own children. Saturn was also associated with the Carthaginian god Ba’al Hammon, because he also sacrificed his children. Saturn is also associated with Jayvee, because the sacred day for celebrating Saturn was Saturday. The saying Saturni dies, which means “Saturn’s day” first shows up in Latin literature in a poem by Tibullus.

The plebeian tribune Lucius Appuleius Saturninus issued a denarius in the 104 B.C.  Depicting Saturn driving a four-horse chariot (quadriga), a vehicle which was associated with royalty, triumphing generals, and gods of.

Even though Saturn was depicted as a negative character in most cases, he still gained a cult following among many people. To honor the Golden Age of Saturnalia, which was held each year, people started following the cult of Saturn. In the age of Saturn’s rule, there were no wars, food was in abundance and everything ran smoothly. Saturnalia was also the season of gift giving and people started loving this period even more. To many, it represents what Christmas represents for the Christians. This was also the time of decision making and time of equality when everyone was at the same level.

Christians later turned Saturnalia into Christmas, which is what we celebrate around the same time the Roman’s used to celebrate Saturnalia.

Scientists, who used to live in the period of middle age, associated Saturn with sadness and to them the Saturn meant darkness. Saturn was also a symbol of wisdom and peace. There is even an astrological association with Saturn. In astrology, Saturn was always associated with rules and regulations. According to beliefs, day for celebrating Saturn was Saturday, which is the reason why many associated Saturn with Jayvee.

In Medicine astrology, Saturn is bad for our bones, knees and treatments like chemotherapy are associated with these Roman deities as well. Color associated with Saturn is black and he also gives us sad emotions and negative feelings.

In art, Saturn is usually associated as a cruel being, and especially gruesome painting is the one of Saturn eating his children. Like we mentioned earlier, Saturn was often depicted as a negative character even though he gained some popularity later on. Paul Rubens painting, in which we can see Saturn eating a baby, is especially terrifying and it paints the perfect image of Saturn and the way he was depicted in mythology.

Conclusion

Roman mythology represents a combination of myths and legends from ancient Greece and it entails stories about various topics. Romans established a religious system with several deities, which are better known as polytheism. Roman myths were often linked to stories and events that happened on daily occasions but they would usually add to them a little bit of magic or surrealism.

Saturn is definitely one of the more famous gods and his depiction in art and literature can sometimes be terrifying. His depiction is in one part positive and one part negative. Saturn was best known for the fact that he ate his own children and the fact that he reigned one of the wealthiest periods in Roman history.

Romans definitely celebrated the Saturnalia, time of the year when Romans were all equal and there was no difference between slaves and masters. People enjoyed the wealth and prosperity under the rule of this, at times, gruesome god. Saturn was the Roman god of time, agriculture and liberation. Unlike other Roman deities, Saturn was celebrated with people with uncovered heads, which was not the usual practice.

Saturn will forever remain the symbol of good and the bad. In popular culture, Saturn was a symbol of death, darkness, sadness and negative emotions. In Astrology, associations with this Roman god were pretty much the same. The reason why Saturn was never seen as a positive character is because of his cruelty and awful deeds he did to his family. Stories about eating his children and murdering his father were simply unacceptable to Romans, and they never grew to love Saturn. Even though his period was one of the wealthiest periods, the never became one of the most popular gods among Romans.

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