Saturnus in Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology
a mythical king of Italy to whom was ascribed the
introduction of agriculture and the habits of civilised life
in general. The name is, notwithstanding the different
quantity, connected with the verb sero, sevi, saturn, and
although the ancients themselves invariably identify
Saturnus with the Greek Cronos, there is no resemblance
whatever between the attributes of the two deities, except
that both were regarded as the most ancient divinities in
their respective countries. The resemblance is much stronger
between Demeter and Saturn, for all that the Greeks ascribe
to their Demeter is ascribed by the Italians to Saturn, who
in the very earliest times came to Italy in the reign of
Janus. (Verg. A. 8.314, &c.; Macr. 1.10; P. Vict De Orig.
Gent. Rom. 1, &c.) Saturnus, then, deriving his name from
sowing, is justly called the introducer of civilisation and
social order, both of which are inseparably connected with
agriculture. His reign is, moreover, conceived for the same
reason to nave been the golden age of Italy, and more
especially of the Aborigines, his subjects. As agricultural
industry is the source of wealth and plenty, his wife was
Ops, the representative of plenty. The story related of the
god, is that in the reign of Janus he came to Italy, was
hospitably received by Janus, and formed a settlement on the
Capitoline hill, which was hence called the Saturnian hill.
At the foot of that hill, on the road leading up the
Capitol, there stood in aftertimes the temple of Saturn.
(Dionys. A. R. 6.1 ; Liv. 41.27; Vict. l.100.3, Reg. Urb.
viii.) Saturn then made the people acquainted with
agriculture, suppressed their savage mode of life, and led
them to order, peaceful occupations, and morality. The
result was that the whole country was called Saturnia or the
land of plenty. (Verg. A. 8.358; Justin, 43.1; Macr. 1.7;
Varro, De Ling. Lat. 5.42; Fest. s. v. Saturnia ; Victor,
l.c.) Saturn, like many other mythical kings, suddenly
disappeared, being removed from earth to the abodes of the
gods, and immediately after Janus is said to have erected an
altar to Saturn in the forum. (Macrob. l.c. ; Arnob. 4.24;
Ov. Fast. 1.238.) It is further related that Latium received
its name (from lateo) from this disappearance of Saturn, who
for the same reason was regarded by some as a divinity of
the nether world. (Plut. Quaest. Rom. 24.）
Respecting the festival solemnized by the Romans in honour
of Saturn, see Dict. of Antiq. s. v. Saturnulia.
The statue of Saturnus was hollow and filled with oil,
probably to denote the fertility of Latium in olives (Plin.
Nat. 15.7. 7); in his hand he held a crooked pruning knife,
and his feet were surrounded with a woollen riband. (Verg.
A. 7.179; Arnob. 6.12; Macrob. l.c.; Martial, 11.6. 1.) In
the pediment of the temple of Saturn were seen two figures
resembling Tritons, with horns, and whose lower extremities
grew out of the ground (Macr. 1.8); the temple itself
contained the public treasury, and many laws also were
deposited in it. (Serv. ad Aen. 8.319.) It must be remarked
in conclusion that Saturn and Ops were not only the
protectors of agriculture, but all vegetation was under
their care, as well as every thing which promoted their
growth. (Macr. 1.7, 10; comp. Hartung, Die Religion der
Römer, vol. ii. p. 122, &c.) - A Dictionary of Greek and
Roman biography and mythology, William Smith, Ed.