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Cronus


Cronus (or Kronos) is a pre-Greek archetypical fertility god whose exact origin is unknown, but is said to be the son of the earth goddess Gaea and the sky god Ouranos, whom he usurped after castrating him. Rhea was his sister and consort. Cronus followed his father's example of swallowing his sons because when marrying an oracle foretold that a son would displace him. Zeus was this son who was saved when Rhea followed Gaea's advice and presented Cronus with a stone wrapped in swaddling clothes instead of the child. Zeus was secretly taken to Crete where he grew to full stature.

Afterwards Zeus made Cronus vomit up his brothers and sisters, which included Poseidon, Hades, Hera, Hestia, and Demeter. Furthermore, Zeus released his uncles and aunts whom Cronus had chose not to unfetter on the disposition of Ouranos. The most important of these were the Cyclopes, the one-eyed giants, who in gratitude gave Zeus thunder and lightening, thereafter his emblems and instruments of power.

In the ensuing battle Cronus and the Titans lost. The former was exiled along with a portion of the Golden Age to the Isles of Blest, at the outermost edge of the earth, while the Titans were thrown into Tartarus, a land situated beneath Hades where they were enchained and in time joined by others; they were not so much great offenders, but rather offenders of the great.

Cronus was celebrated at the Greek harvest festival of kronia, which equaled the Roman saturnalia. During Hellenic times Cronus was the supreme god of Byblos (Syria). He was depicted on the coinage of Antiochus IV (175-164 BC) nude, leaning on a scepter, with three pairs of wings, two spread and one folded. A.G.H.


Sources:

Cotterell, Arthur, A Dictionary of World Mythology, New York, G. P. Putman's Sons, 1980, p. 146
Jordan, Michael, Encyclopedia of Gods, New York, Facts On File, Inc. 1993, pp. 135-136