Fable says, that his mother, Earth, had predicted to him that one of his sons would deprive him of his authority, and therefore he swallowed his own children as soon as they were born. Thus the crime which he had committed against his father was revenged. For as Uranos formerly dreaded, so Kronos now dreads seditious power. And while he reigned over his brothers, the Titans, he, in the same manner as his father had done, keeps the hundred armed giants and Cyclops imprisoned in Tartarus. He fears ruin from his own children. The new born creatures still rise against the source of creation that threatens to swallow them up again. Even as Ge formerly groaned on account of her children's imprisonment, so Rhea now laments the cruelty of her husband - the all destroying power that spares not his own creations. When, therefore, the time came in which she was to become the mother of Jupiter, the future ruler of gods and men, she implored Earth and the starry Heaven, for the preservation of her child. But the ancient primitive deities were deprived of government and the early influence left them was in prophecies and counsel. The supplicated parents, therefore, advised their daughter to conceal her son as soon as it should be born, in a fertile part of the island of Crete.
Wild, roving Fancy, now fixing herself upon a certain spot of earth, finds on this island, where the divine child is to be reared, her first resting place. By the advice of her mother, Rhea presented a stone to Kronos instead of her new born child. The stratagem was successful; and by means of this stone so often mentioned by the ancients, bounds were set to destruction; the destroying power had, for the first time, taken death instead of life; and thus the latter gained time to rise, secretly, as it were, to light, in order to form and unfold itself. But it is not yet secure from the persecutions springing from the very source whence it derives its origin. Therefore the tutors of the child, the Curetes, whose nature as well as origin are enveloped in mysterious darkness, make a continual noise with their shields and spears, lest Kronos should hear the noise of the crying infant.
The education of Jupiter on the island of Crete forms one of the most attractive fictions of the imagination. The goat Amalthea, which was afterwards placed among the stars, and whose horn became a symbol of plenty, suckles him with her milk. Doves bring him nourishment; golden colored bees carry him honey; and the nymphs of the wood are his nurses. The physical, as well as intellectual powers of his future king of the gods and men, rapidly develop themselves. The old realm of Kronos approaches its end; - and, in addition to Jupiter, five more of his children are saved from his destruction: viz. Vesta, Ceres, Neptune, Juno and Pluto.
United with them, Jupiter, after having delivered the Cyclops out of prison, and received from them the thunderbolts, declares war against Kronos and the Titans. And now the modern gods, the descendants of Kronos and Rhea, separate themselves from the ancient deities or Titans, the children of Uranos and Ge.
The golden years of mortal men were placed by Fancy in those times when Juptier did not yet rule with his thunder; under the reign of Saturn, imagination collected together all that is desirable to man but gone to return no more. After having been deprived of his destructive power, Saturn escaped the fate of the other Titans, and
There, in the plains of Latium, surrounded by high mountains, he concealed himself, and transferred thither the golden age, that happy period, when mankind lived in a state of perfect equality and all things were in common. He is said to have arrived in a ship at the Tiber, in the dominions of Janus, and in union with him to have reigned over men with wisdom and benignity.
While Jupiter, still in danger of being deprived of his usurped authority, is hurling thunderbolts against his foes, Saturn, far from the scene of violence, has arrived in the quiet fields of Latium, where, under his reign, those happy times pass away which are celebrated in song, as a good that is passed and gone, and now sought for in vain. Saturn's time was the grey time of yore; he swallowed his own children, buried in oblivion the fleeting years, and left no trace of bloody wars, destroyed cities, and crushed nations, which constitute the chief subjects of history ever since men began to record the events of the world. All that happy time, when liberty and equality, justice and virtue, were still reigning, men lived like the gods in perfect security, without pain and cares, and exempt from the burdens of old age. The soil of the earth gave them fruits without laborious cultivation; unacquainted with sickness, they died away as if overtaken with sweet slumber; and when the lap of earth received their dust, the souls of the deceased, enveloped in light air, remained as genii with the survivors.
In this manner the poets portrayed their golden times on which imagination, wearied with the scenes of the busy world, dwells with so much delight.
Saturnalia were festivals celebrated in honor of Saturn, and were instituted long before the foundation of Rome, in commemoration of the freedom and equality that existed among the inhabitants of the earth during the golden reign of Saturn. This festival was celebrated in December, and at first lasted but one day (the 19th); it was then extended to three, and subsequently, by order of Caligula and Claudius, to seven. This celebration was remarkable for the liberty that universally prevailed during its continuance. Servants were then allowed freedom with their masters; slaves were at liberty to be unruly without fear of punishment; and until the expiration of the festival, wore a cap on the head as a badge of freedom and equality. Animosity ceased; no criminals were executed; nor was war ever declared during Saturnalia, but everything gave way to mirth and merriment. Schools were closed; the senate did not sit; and friends made presents to each other. It was also the custom to send wax tapers to friends as an expression of good feeling; for the Romans, as a particular respect to this deity, kept torches and tapers continually burning upon his altars.
Among the Romans, the priest always performed the sacrifices with his head uncovered, a custom never observed before any other god. Fetters were hung on his statutes in commemoration of the chains he had worn when imprisoned by Jupiter. From this circumstance, slaves who obtained their liberty, generally dedicated their fetters to him. During the celebration of the Saturnalia the chains were taken from the statues, to imitate the freedom and independence that mankind enjoyed during the golden age.
In his temple and under his protection the Romans placed their treasury, and also laid up the rolls containing the names of their people, because, in his time, no one was defrauded, and no theft was ever committed.
Saturn is generally represented by the ancients as an old man, bent with old age and infirmity; he holds the sickle or scythe given him by his mother, and a serpent biting its own tail. Sometimes he is leaning on his sickle and clothed in tattered garments; to these were added wings and feet of wool, to express his his fleet and silent course. Upon ancient gems, he is sometimes represented with a scythe in his hand, and leaning on the prow of a ship, on the side of which rises part of an edifice and a wall. This is probably an allusion to Saturn's having built the old city of Saturnia, near the Tiber, on the hills where Rome was afterwards founded. In this manner, Saturn sometimes appears as a symbol of all destroying time, and sometimes, as a king who once reigned in Latium.