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Cronus

Cronus

Cronus was the youngest of the Titans, the Greek deities who ruled the world before the arrival of Zeus* and the other Olympian gods and goddesses. Cronus seized power from his father, the sky god Uranus, and was later ousted by his own children. The Romans adopted Cronus as a member of their pantheon, renamed him Saturn, and worshiped him as a god of agriculture.

According to legend, Uranus had imprisoned several of his children in the body of his wife, the earth goddess Gaia. To punish him, Gaia asked her son Cronus to cut off Uranus's sex organs during the night. After carrying out his mother's wishes, Cronus replaced his father as ruler. He married his sister, Rhea, another Titan, and they began to have children. Learning that one of his offspring was fated to overcome him just as he had overcome his father, Cronus swallowed each baby as it was born. Rhea, however, managed to save their youngest child, Zeus, by feeding Cronus a stone wrapped in infants' clothing. She then arranged for the baby to be raised in secret.

When Zeus was grown, he forced Cronus to vomit up the swallowed children: the deities Hestia, Demeter*, Hera*, Hades*, and Poseidon*. Zeus also freed the giants and the Cyclopes* who had been imprisoned. Together they went to war against Cronus and the Titans and, after a violent struggle, emerged victorious. Zeus then banished the Titans to Tartarus, a place deep in the underworld.

deity god or goddess

pantheon all the gods of a particular culture

underworld land of the dead

In another version of the myth, Cronus's rise to power ushered in a peaceful golden age, which ended when the Titans were defeated. Following the battle, Cronus was sent to rule a distant paradise known as the Islands of the Blessed.

See also Cyclopes; Gaia; Giants; Greek Mythology; Saturn; Uranus; Zeus.

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Cronus

Cronus in Greek mythology, the supreme god until dethroned by Zeus. The youngest son of Uranus (Heaven) and Gaia (Earth), Cronus overthrew and castrated his father and then married his sister Rhea. Because he was fated to be overcome by one of his male children, Cronus swallowed all of them as soon as they were born, but when Zeus was born, Rhea deceived him and hid the baby away.

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Cronus

Cronus: see Kronos.

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Cronus

Cronus •pandanus •badness, madness, sadness •Magnus • aptness •fatness, patness •redness • wetness •anus, Coriolanus, heinous, Janus, Punta Arenas, Silvanusgenus, intravenous, Maecenas, Malvinas, Salinas, venous, Venus •Cygnus • proteinous • ruinous •libidinous •multitudinous, platitudinous, pulchritudinous, vicissitudinous •cartilaginous, farraginous, oleaginous •fuliginous, indigenous, oxygenous, polygynous, rubiginous, vertiginous •androgynous, autogenous, endogenous, erogenous, exogenous, homogenous, hydrogenous, misogynous •ferruginous • ominous •bituminous, leguminous, luminous, numinous, voluminous •conterminous, coterminous, terminus, verminous •larcenous • gelatinous • cretinous •mountainous •glutinous, mutinous •resinous •Aquinas, Delphinus, echinus, Linus, Longinus, minus, Plotinus, sinus, vinous •oddness • wanness • hotness •Faunus, rawness •Kaunas •bonus, Cronus, Jonas, lowness, onus, Tithonus •oldness •newness, twoness •fulness •alumnus, rumness •oneness • Oceanus • Eridanus •diaphanous • polyphonous •cacophonous, homophonous •porcellanous • villainous •membranous • tyrannous •synchronous • Uranus • tetanus •monotonous • gluttonous •cavernous, ravenous •treasonous • poisonous • Avernus

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Cronus

Cronus

Nationality/Culture

Greek

Pronunciation

KROH-nuhs

Alternate Names

Saturn (Roman), Kronos

Appears In

Hesiod's Theogony, Ovid's Metamorphoses, Hygi-nus's Fabulae

Lineage

Son of Uranus and Gaia

Character Overview

Cronus was the youngest of the Titans, the Greek deities (gods) who ruled the world before the arrival of Zeus and the other Olympian gods and goddesses. Cronus seized power from his father, the sky god Uranus (pronounced YOOR-uh-nuhs), and was later overthrown by his own children. The Romans adopted Cronus as a member of their pantheon— or group of recognized gods—renaming him Saturn and worshipping him as a god of agriculture.

Major Myths

According to legend, Uranus had imprisoned several of his children in the body of his wife, the earth goddess Gaia . To punish him, Gaia asked her son Cronus to cut off Uranus's sex organs during the night. After carrying out his mother's wishes, Cronus replaced his father as ruler. He imprisoned races of giants and Cyclopes (pronounced sigh-KLOH-peez), who he considered dangerous. He married his sister, Rhea, another Titan, and they began to have children. Learning that one of his offspring was fated to overcome him just as he had overcome his father, Cronus swallowed each baby as it was born. Rhea, however, managed to save their youngest child, Zeus (pronounced ZOOS), by feeding Cronus a stone wrapped in infant clothing. She then arranged for the baby to be raised in secret in a cave on the highest mountain of the island of Crete.

When Zeus was grown, he forced Cronus to vomit up the swallowed children: the deities Hestia (pronounced HESS-tee-uh), Demeter (pronounced di-MEE-ter), Hera (pronounced HAIR-uh), Hades (pronounced HAY-deez), and Poseidon (pronounced poh-SYE-dun). Zeus also freed the giants and the Cyclopes who had been imprisoned by his father. Together they went to war against Cronus and the Titans and, after a violent struggle, emerged victorious. Zeus then banished the Titans to Tartarus (pronounced TAR-tur-uhs), a place deep in the underworld . In another version of the myth, Cronus's rise to power ushered in a peaceful golden age, which ended when the Titans were defeated. Following the battle, Cronus was sent to rule a distant paradise known as the Islands of the Blessed.

Cronus in Context

Even though Cronus was the father of Zeus and other Olympian gods, he did not play a major role in ancient Greek worship or daily life; he did receive worship in parts of Greece, particularly as part of a harvest festival called the “Kronia.” During the festival, masters and slaves ate together, thereby “overthrowing” social rules that separated the classes, and allowing social equality—just for a day. The Romans, who worshipped Cronus as “Saturn,” held a similar festival called the “Saturnalia” in which slaves had temporary freedom to do as they please. The festival coincided with the Christian Christmas season, and involved the exchange of presents, a practice adopted by the Christians when Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire. Although the Romans were much more active in their worship of Cronus than the Greeks were, the Romans recognized Saturn as a Greek import; when the Roman priests presented sacrifices to him, they left their heads uncovered, as was customary in Greek worship and contrary to Roman practice.

Key Themes and Symbols

The Greeks viewed Cronus as a symbol of great power and fate. Although he overthrows his father and becomes the leader of the gods, he later falls victim to his son. Although he tries to control his fate by swallowing his children, his plan fails and his destiny—a predetermined path in life—remains the same.

As a god of harvests, Cronus is sometimes shown holding a pruning hook. The similarity between the name “Cronus” and the Greek word for time chronos inspired his transformation into the Western figure of “Father Time,” the elderly man with a scythe who is ushered out at the end of each year by a child who represents the New Year.

Cronus in Art, Literature, and Everyday Life

Saturn was the source of the modern word “Saturday,” and his name was given to the sixth planet from the Sun in our solar system. Perhaps because of the Romans' admiration of Cronus as Saturn, the god is better known and more commonly depicted as Saturn from the Renaissance through the modern age. One of the most famous images of Saturn is Francisco Goya's grisly painting Saturn Devouring One of His Children, completed around 1823 as a mural on a wall in his home and never meant for public display. Another famous image of Cronus/Saturn eating one of his children was created by Peter paul Rubens in 1636. Cronus is also the evil force at work pitting the gods against each other in the award-winning young readers book The Lightning Thief (2005) by Rick Riordan.

Read, Write, Think, Discuss

The Cronus Chronicles, written by Anne Ursu and illustrated by Eric Fortune, is a series about two modern-day kids who become caught up in a supernatural world of Greek myths. In the first volume of the series, The Shadow Thieves (2007), the kids—Charlotte Mielswetzki and her cousin Zee—must stop Philonecron, the grandson of Poseidon, from stealing the shadows of children in order to build an army and take over the underworld.

SEE ALSO Cyclopes; Gaia; Giants; Greek Mythology; Oedipus; Uranus; Zeus

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