Saturn is the second largest planet in the Solar System, after Jupiter. Named after the Roman god Saturn, its astronomical symbol (♄) represents the god’s sickle. Saturn has been known since prehistoric times. In ancient times, it was the most distant of the five known planets in the solar system (excluding Earth) and thus a major character in various mythologies. Babylonian astronomers systematically observed and recorded the movements of Saturn. In ancient Roman mythology, the god Saturnus, from which the planet takes its name, was the god of the agricultural and harvest sector. The Romans considered Saturnus the equivalent of the Greek god Cronus.

In the 5th century CE, the Indian astronomical text Surya Siddhanta estimated the diameter of Saturn as 73,882 miles, an error of less than 1% from the currently accepted value of 74,580 miles.

In ancient Roman religion and myth, Saturnus was a major god. His reign was depicted as a Golden Age of abundance and peace by many Roman authors. Saturn is the namesake of both Saturn, the planet, and Saturday (dies Saturni).

It was foretold that one day a mighty son of Cronus would in turn overthrow him, and Cronus devoured all of his children when they were born to prevent this. Cronus’s wife, Rhea (often identified with the Roman goddess Ops), hid her sixth child, Zeus.

According to Greco-Roman mythology, the first inhabitants of the world were the children of Terra (Mother Earth) and Caelus (Father Sky). These creatures were very large and manlike, but without human qualities. They were the qualities of Earthquake, Hurricane and Volcano living in a world where there was yet no life. There were only the irresistible forces of nature creating mountains and seas. They were unlike any life form known to man.

Three creatures born of Terra were monstrously huge with one hundred hands and fifty heads. Three others were individually called Cyclops, because each had only one enormous eye in the middle of their foreheads. Then, there were the Titans, seven of them, formidably large and none of whom were a purely destructive force. One was actually credited with saving man after creation.

Caelus hated the children with the fifty heads. As each was born, he imprisoned it under the earth. Terra was enraged by the treatment of her children by their father and begged the Cyclopes and the Titans to help her put an end to the cruel treatment. Only one Titan, Saturn, responded. Saturn lay in wait for his father and, depending on the source, either castrated him or sliced him into a thousand pieces with his sickle (some sources will say he did both). From Caelus’ blood sprang the Giants, a fourth race of monsters, and the Erinyes (the Furies), whose purpose was to punish wrongdoing. They were referred to as “those who walk in darkness” and were believed to have writhing snakes for hair and eyes that cried blood. Though eventually all the monsters were driven from Earth, the Erinyes are to remain until the world is free of sin.

With the deposing of his father, Saturn became the ruler of the Universe for untold ages and he reigned with his sister, Ops, who also became his wife. He was called since ancient times “The Greater Malefic”.

About 1530 Medieval and Renaissance scholars associated Saturn with one of the Four Temperaments of ancient medicine, melancholy.

Where there is light Saturn brings darkness, where there is heat Saturn brings cold, where there is joy Saturn brings sadness, where there is life Saturn brings death, where there is luck Saturn brings misfortune (and sometimes heavy consequences for bad judgment or mistakes), where there is unity Saturn brings isolation, where there is knowledge Saturn brings fear, where there is hope Saturn brings skepticism and stalling. Death, particular in old age, has been associated with Saturn since ancient times. Saturn’s color is black. The element associated with Saturn is lead.




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