Saturn has been viewed from several very different perspectives thruout human history—as of now, the reasons are not completely understood. This page examines notions about Saturn that were held during various eras and in most cases by people with belief systems different than our own.
You can read current facts and historical ideas about Saturn by just scrolling down, or select instead any of the following six sections:
- Ages of Man
- Golden Age
- Father Time
Our solar system was created about five billion years ago from rotating gas that contracted to become the sun and its planets, moons, comets, asteroids and meteoroid streams. All of these bodies are now held together by sun’s gravitational attraction as they travel around that central star in the same direction as Earth.
Saturn is the second largest planet and sixth outward from the sun, about 800 million miles from Earth. Its equatorial diameter is 9.4 times that of Earth. Saturn rotates rapidly, spinning on average once every 10 hours 32 minutes, but because of its outer gaseous composition the spin rate varies with latitude. That large planet takes 29.5 Earth years to complete one orbit.
Mercury is shown as a speck next to the sun on the far left, above. Positioned next are Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and finally Pluto as a white dot on the far right.
Planet sizes are shown to scale but their distances from the sun are way out of proportion. Computer monitors are not nearly large enough to display meaningful views of solar system members if both planet sizes and a representation of their orbits around the sun are shown to scale.
Because hydrogen and helium (two of the lightest elements) make up much of Saturn’s mass, its average density is only 0.7 times that of water. But it has a central core made of either rock or a mixture of rock and ice. That core alone is believed to be fifteen times Earth’s mass and its total mass is about 95 times greater.
Winds blow at extremely high speeds on Saturn—often 1,100 miles per hour. Their primarily easterly direction indicates that the winds are not confined to the top cloud layer but must extend at least 1,200 miles downward into the atmosphere.
Saturn is known to have about 33 moons. Irregular shapes of the smallest indicate they may be remains of three or four larger moons which suffered disastrous collisions sometime in the past. One small moon, Phoebe, travels in a retrograde orbit. It is believed to be a captured asteroid. Two of the moons, Epimetheus and Janus, swap orbits about every 4 years.
Saturn’s complex ring system consist of thousands of narrow concentric ringlets. They are only a little over half a mile thick and are made up of many separate rocks, chunks of ice and particles that range in size from dust to house-sized bolders.
Ages of Man
The Greek poet Hesoid in his Works and Days (written in the 8th century B.C.) reported five “ages.” He claimed that four of them were experienced by mankind and that each age was a time period of uncertain duration that existed under a different god. According to Hesoid, the first god was Ouranos, the starry sky. Then Ouranos was replaced by Kronos (Saturn) who presided over a golden age until replaced by his son Zeus (Jupiter, also known to Romans as Jove). Hesoid wrote this about the ages of mankind:
“The golden age was first; But when good Saturn, banish’d from above, Silver Age Was driv’n to Hell, the world was under Jove.
“Succeeding times a silver age behold, Excelling brass, but more excell’d by gold. Then summer, autumn, winter did appear: And spring was but a season of the year. The sun his annual course obliquely made, Good days contracted, and enlarg’d the bad. Then air with sultry heats began to glow; The wings of winds were clogg’d with ice and snow; And shivering mortals, into houses driv’n, Sought shelter from th’ inclemency of Heav’n. . .
“To this came next in course, the brazen age: Brazen Age A warlike offspring, prompt to bloody rage, Not impious yet… The Hard steel succeeded then: Iron Age And stubborn as the metal, were the men. Truth, modesty, and shame, the world forsook: Fraud, avarice, and force, their places took. Then sails were spread. . .”
Several hundred years later Herodotus addressed Hesoid’s notion of planets being gods in human form by repeating what Egyptian priests told him about four different ages:
“So, in eleven thousand three hundred and forty years, said the priests, there had never been a god in man-shape; nor, moreover, neither beforetime nor thereafter, among the rest of those who became kings of Egypt, had any such thing happened.
During this time, they said, there were four times when the sun rose out of his wonted place—twice rising where now he sets, and twice setting where now he rises—and, say the priests, nothing became different among the Egyptians, for all these disturbances, neither products of the Earth nor products of the river, nor yet in respect of diseases or death.” 1
If Egyptian priests who made the above statement to Herodotus were correct, the sun “twice rising where now he sets, and twice setting where now he rises” would probably have been the cause of new Ages of Man each time these changes occurred.
Saturnalia, which honored Saturn, was one of early Rome’s most important festivals. The Roman poet Ovid said Saturn was king of a “Golden Age” in the time of Arcadians who lived on Earth before Jupiter was born, and are of a race that “predates the moon.” 2 Ovid also wrote of that time:
“The earth gave forth all good things of her own accord, and mankind, content with foods created without labor, picked the fruit of the trees and the mountain strawberries and the cornel cherries and the mulberries clinging to the wild thickets and acorns that fell from the spreading oak of Jupiter.
“Spring was eternal, and the gentle breezes caressed the flowers, all springing forth without seed, with clear warm air. Soon, also, the unplowed earth was rich with grain, and fields always fertile, were white with the heavy beards of corn. Then rivers of milk, then streams of nectar flowed forth . . .” 3
Ancient Egyptians frequently referred to a Golden Age by the name of Zep Tepi, ‘The First Time’ of Osiris (the constellation known to us as Orion). They believed Zep Tepi had long predated the Pyramid Age. 4 Egyptians also referred to it as the “Age of Ra.” 5
Romans and Egyptians were not the only peoples who had a memory of a Golden Age. Greek tradition also recalls the prosperous epoch of the god Kronos (Saturn); they believed it was a time when the whole world enjoyed peace and plenty. Chinese referred to it as the Age of “Perfect Virtue;” 6 Hindus had a Golden Age called “Satya yuga” or perfect age; 7
Generally, the Golden Age was thought of as a timeless epoch before the arrival of discord and war, and before a “linkage” of heaven with Earth was broken. Most of those early cultures also connected the Golden Age with the rule of a Universal Monarch: the Akkadian Anu, the Sumerian An, the Hindu Yama, the Persian Yima, the Norse Frodhi, the Chinese Huang-ti and the Mexican Quetzalcoatl. All of these are claimed to be founding kings, often as the first in what those peoples believed was an unbroken line of rulers.
The Greek poet Hesoid in his Works and Days (written in the 8th century B.C.) gave a further account of mankind’s lot in the Golden Age:
“…They lived like gods without any care in their hearts, free and apart from labor and misery. Nor was the terror of old age upon them, but always with youthful hands and feet they took their delight in festive pleasures apart from all evil; and they died as if going to sleep. Every good thing was theirs to enjoy: the grain-giving earth produced her fruits spontaneously, abundantly, freely; and they in complete satisfaction lived off their fields without any cares in blessed abundance…”
Hesoid’s story is similar to the biblical tale of paradise, a time and place where no labor was required to obtain the blessings of an abundant life.
Much in Golden Age accounts is almost beyond belief. For instance, all Golden Age traditions maintain that it was a time of eternal spring. But that would have been possible only if Earth’s axis was nearly perpendicular to its plane of rotation. Ovid implied this was the case when he wrote “Then summer, autumn, winter did appear: And spring was but a season of the year. The sun his annual course obliquely made…” 8 (Apparently Ovid’s intent was to say that the sun’s annual course was not “obliquely made” during the Golden Age.) If true, that would explain why there were no seasons.)
Just when the Golden Age ended is unknown. One clue comes from a recent discovery by researchers from the University of Georgia who studied fish bones left by ancient peoples in Peru. The researchers reported in Science Magazine that the bones showed very little ocean temperature variation during the fishes” lifetime. 9 This indicates that El Nino, the periodic warming of Pacific Ocean waters that affects worldwide weather, began less than 6,000 years ago. If that’s true, then perhaps seasons also began after that time. By the way, the word ‘seasons’ derives from the word ‘sowing’ which in turn comes from a word for Saturn.
Planets appeared in mythology all around the world when they first became identified as gods sometime after the Golden Age’s close. Memories of the Golden Age do not include notions about any planet other than Saturn, but in mythology Saturn is father of the gods, the most important of whom are now known to be members of the solar system. This section describes beliefs held by early Romans and Greeks of the same period.
Mythology apparently was first consigned to text early in the first millennium B.C. – Herodotus, who lived from about about 485 to 425 B.C., indicated this when he wrote:
“I believe that Homer and Hesiod were four hundred years before my time—and no more than that. It is they who created for the Greeks their theogony; 10 it is they who gave to the gods the special names for their descent from their ancestors and divided among them their honors, their arts, and their shapes.” 11
For Romans, Saturn was the god of sowing and reaping. They thought he brought agriculture, prosperity and abundance. 12 Saturn’s festival, the Saturnalia, was the worship of Saturn—and oddly the Sun—to which Saturn is equated in various guises and many countries. 13 Saturnalia was held in Rome every December beginning at the time of the winter solstice.
Ancient Romans identifed the Greek God Zeus with Jupiter and the Greek Kronos with Saturn. Originally an ancient Roman god of agriculture, Saturn was much later identified with the Greek god CRONUS. They believed he fled to Italy after Zeus dethroned him from being ruler of the universe. They thought Saturn then settled on Rome’s Capitoline Hill and taught the people agriculture and other arts of civilization. In his temple in Rome, the feet of Saturn were bound in chains all year long as a symbol of his defeat by Jove. The chains were removed during Saturnalia, the celebration of a hoped-for return of the Golden Age.
Saturn was identified with Chronos (or Chronus) who was both the Greek god of harvest and the personification of time. Its root is used in “chronology” and other modern words. Chronos is always capitalized, which in ancient Greek signifies a proper noun such as a person. But Saturn was also compared with the Greek Cronus, a much later figure, who was the father of Zeus and his siblings. They were Olympian Gods. Because Chronos and Cronus are words that sound alike, there is much confusion as to with which Saturn is identified.
When the name Chronos is used, it is in relation to his role as father of the HORAE who are regarded as time within the day rather than seasons or years. But an ancient Greek word for spring—krounos—is clearly derived from Kronos. 14
In Greek, the spelling of these two words is identical except for their first letter. Chronos begins with the letter chi and Cronus begins with the letter kappa. For this reason, Cronus is often referred to as “Kronos” in English.
Perhaps because of a similarity between the Greek names of Chronos and Cronus, Saturn is often represented as being Time itself. To make this even more confusing there’s also a greek word “Cronus,” meaning “crow”. These three words are often connected. Whether this is because they sound similar or because they have similar roots isn’t known.
Catastrophism is a term used to describe the belief that our solar system has changed in significant ways during the time of man, and that some of these changes resulted in dramatic effects upon Earth and other planets. Several organizations are now exploring these notions.
The Kronia Group, 15 which does research in interdisciplinary investigations of planetary history and cosmic catastrophe, holds the view that Saturn was once seen as a huge stationary body in the sky.
The Society for Interdisciplinary Studies 16 (SIS) is a UK-based organization with worldwide membership. They have brought together people from a wide variety of backgrounds and interests including ancient history, archaeoastronomy, archaeology, astronomy, biblical studies, cosmology, evolution, geology, geomagnetism, mythology, palaeontology, physics and psychology as well as catastrophism. Many of those areas of interest are referred to in an informative and scholarly SIS web page, The Revision of Ancient History. 17
Cosmos & Chronos 18 is also an interdisciplinary research organization. They investigate mythology as it is related to ancient global catastrophes, the effects on chronology of various ancient cultures, possible orbital changes of planets and electrical effects in the solar system and universe. Chronos, as pointed out in the Mythology section of this page, is a name associated with Saturn.
Astral Religions and Planetary Gods 19 is a web page with links to many sites that elaborate on Saturn’s role in Catastrophisim.
In Quantavolution and Catastrophe 20 Alfred de Grazia proposes that changes in living beings occur largely as the result of catastrophic events and that these events originate in the skies from forces that are electrical in nature.
On Wal Thornhill’s Holoscience 21 web site he claims that “The Electric Universe takes a simplifying leap by unifying the nuclear forces, magnetism and gravity as manifestations of a near instantaneous electrostatic force.”
Astronomy & Cosmology in Collision with Reality 22 makes the claim that “There is a revolution taking place today in astronomy and cosmology that will rival the one set off by Galileo.” It too supports the notion of an electric universe.
In the sci.lang Newsgroup a prominent catastrophist recently suggested that Saturn is responsible for the word for “night” in several languages. 23 Here’s part of that posting:
In Hebrew, the word for “night” is “lail,” which word seems to be composed of the words “la El,” or “lo El,” which translate as “no El.” So also in Arabic, in which language the word for “night” is “leyla,” composed of “le Eyl,” that is “no El.” In Maltese, “night” is “lejl,” in which the “j” is pronounced “y,” and which also translates as “le El,” that is “no El.” Given that El is one of the most ancient Near Eastern names for Saturn, the term in question can also be translated as “no Saturn.”
But, in European languages, the word for “night” seems to translate as “no eight.” This can be seen in the following languages:
English: no eight = night.
French: non huit = nuit.
German: nein acht = nacht.
Italian: non otto = notte
Spanish: non oche = noche.
(End of extract from sci.lang posting)
Saturn was frequently depicted in rock art as an eight-pointed star. (See graphics below.) Perhaps ancient peoples thought of Saturn as representing eight.
Seen above, from left to right, are: a sun symbol, Shamash disc, Sumerian sun god, Saturn, and the Macedonian flag.
Saturn has been known as father time for at least the past three thousand years. According to Ovid:
An ancient story has it that when this land was called Saturn’s, the oracle of Jupiter spoke like this: “For the Old Man with the Sickle, pick out and toss in two of your people’s carcasses for the Tiber to take.” 24
Ovid also wrote:
“And the ship? A ship brought the god with the sickle to the Tiber after he’d wandered all over the world. I well remember when this land welcomed Saturn after Jove banished him from the heavenly kingdom. For a long time the name ‘Saturnian’ stuck to the people, and Latium was named for the lately evicted god. Following generations duly minted pennies with a ship to commemorate the divine stranger’s arrival.” 25
A footnote to the above passage states: “In translating latente deo, I have taken liberties to perserve the etymology of ‘Latium.’ Literally, the phrase means from the god in hiding.”
Shown below is an imaginative rendition of Saturn as a hooded, cloaked figure bearing a scythe in his guise as Father Time.
(1) Herodotus. The History. (5th century B.C.) Translated by David Grene.
Chicago & London: The University of Chicago Press, 1987. Book 2. Line 142.
(2) Ovid. Fasti. (Roman Holidays) Translated by Betty Rose Nagle.
Bloomington & Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1995. Book 2 Line 289.
(3) Ovid. Metamorphoses. Book 1, Lines 115 thru 127. (A loose but poetic translation.)
(4) Buval, Robert The Age of the Sphinx
(5) Phillip, B. Living in Nature
(6) The Sacred Books of China, Part 1. Book 1. Translated by James Legge (1891).
and WORLDWIDE TRADITIONS OF A PRIMORDIAL PARADISE
(7) Evolution and Dissolution of Matter- Space – Time Triad Pre-SaraNAgati Issues
(8) Ovid. Metamorphoses. Book 1
(9) Andrus, C.F.T. Science Magazine. February 22, 2001.
(10) “Theogony” means “birth of the gods.”
(11) Herodotus. The History, op. cit. Book 2, Lines 54 thru 58.
(12) sator (sower), satur (gorged) Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology. p. 219 also Time
(13) Macrobius The Saturnalia, Book I
(14) Kronos vs. chronos The Mythic Roots of Time.
(15) KRONIA GROUP
(16) The Society for Interdisciplinary Studies
(17) The Revision of Ancient History
(18) Cosmos & Chronos
(19) Astral Religions and Planetary Gods
(20) Quantavolution and Catastrophe
(22) Astronomy & Cosmology in Collision with Reality
(23) Messages from the thread “Night – No Saturn – No Eight – No Night; A conundrum”
(24) Ovid. Fasti, op. cit. Book 5, Lines 625-628.
(25) Ovid. Fasti, op. cit. Book 1, Lines 233-240.