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Cronus

by Ron Leadbetter

Cronus

Cronus, the son of Uranus and Gaia and the youngest of the twelve Titans. His wife was also one of the Titans, since he married his sister Rhea. Their offspring were Demeter, Hestia, Hera, Hades, Poseidon and Zeus.

It is written that Uranus, who in one version, hid his children away in the bowels of the earth (Tartarus) as he was aghast at the sight of them, in reality he was fearful of their great strength and power. Gaia found her offspring uncomfortable and also painful and when she found the discomfort too much to bear she hatched a plan, which was to end the passions of Uranus, so no more offspring could be produced and that would be the ending of her hurt. But to achieve this she required the help from one of her children. She asked them all, but only her youngest child Cronus would heed her call. To help Cronus accomplish his task Gaia gave him a adamantine sickle to serve as his weapon.

Cronus lay in wait hidden from view, and when Uranus came to lay with Gaia Cronus struck. With one mighty blow from the sickle Cronus severed the genitals from Uranus' body. From the blood which fell to the earth (Gaia) where born the Erinyes (Furies), the Giants and also the Meliae (Nymphs of the manna ash trees). In other versions Aphrodite was born from the foam created from the sex organs of Uranus, after they had been thrown into the sea by Cronus.

Once Cronus had castrated Uranus, he and his wife Rhea took the throne. Under their power a time of harmony and prosperity began, which became known as the "Golden Age"; a time when it was said that people lived without greed or violence, and without toil or the need for laws. But not all was well for Cronus, as it was fated that he would be overthrown by one of his own children. To prevent this from happening he began to swallow his newborn, taking them at birth then swallowing them whole, retaining them inside his own body where they could do him no harm.

Rhea did not like the thoughts of losing all her children, and with the help of Gaia she saved Zeus from this fate. Rhea wrapped a stone in Zeus' swaddling clothes which Cronus took and immediately swallowed thinking it was the child. Gaia and Rhea's plan worked well and the baby Zeus was taken to Crete, and there, in a cave on Mount Dicte, the divine goat Amaltheia suckled and raised the infant Zeus. When Zeus had grown into a young man he returned to his fathers domain, and with the help of Gaia, compelled Cronus to regurgitate the five children he had previously swallowed. (In some versions Zeus received help from Metis who gave Cronus an emetic potion, which made him vomit up Zeus' brothers and sisters). Zeus led the revolt against his father and the dynasty of the Titans, defeated and then banished them.

The Romans compared Cronus with their Saturn, who was to the Romans a corn god. This is from the association of the "Golden Age". In Athens on the 12th day of the month Hekatombaion a festival was held in honour of Cronus, which was known as the "Kronia". It was a celebration of the harvest. In art, Cronus was depicted carrying a sickle used to gather the harvest, but this was also the weapon he used to castrate his father.

The name may derive from the verb kreno, which means 'to exercise sway', 'to reign over', 'to govern'.


Article details:

  • Also known as:
    Kronos
    Cronos
  • Pronunciation:
    kroh'-nuhs
  • Image:

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