19. Saturn

Saturn (Saturnus) was a major god presiding over agriculture and the harvest time. His reign was depicted as a Golden Age of abundance and peace by many Roman authors.

In medieval times he was known as the Roman god of strength, agriculture and justice.

He held in his left hand a sickle and a bundle of wheat in his right hand. Terra was his mother and Caelus his father.

He was identified with the Greek God Cronus and the mythologies of the two gods are commonly mixed. Ops, Saturn’s wife was the equivalent of Roman Rhea.

Saturn had a temple which contained the Royal Treasury on the Forum Romanum. Saturn is the namesake of both he planet Saturn, and the day Saturday.

In the Roman tradition, Saturnalia, a great feast was held during the winter months – in memory of the golden age when Saturn was supposed to have ruled.

It was originally only one day long, taking place on December 17, but later lasted one week.

During Saturnalia, roles of master and slave were reversed, moral restrictions loosened, and the rules of etiquette ignored. It is thought that the festivals of Lupercalia and Saturnalia were the roots of the Carnival year.

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