Monday, July 2, 2012

Kronos, Khronos and Kronia

I remember being new to Hellenic mythology. My first contact with the myths was through a study book in elementary school and focussed on the rise of Zeus over the Titans and, most importantly, his father Kronos. It was the basic story; Kronos was King of the Titans, son of Ouranos; Theos of the Sky, who was foretold one of His sons would cast Him off of the throne. To stop this from happening, Kronos ate His children whole, right after they were born. Rhea, his sister and wife, grew desperate and before giving birth to the last of Her children and ran to her mother, Gaea, for advice. Gaea told Her to hide Her child after birth and offer Kronos a rock to swallow. So done, Zeus was hidden from His father and grew up to a strong and competent young man who went on to overthrow His father, got Him to regurgitate Zeus's brothers and sisters and started the Titanomachy (Τιτανομαχία) or War of the Titans, which would last ten years and end with the victory of the Olympians and the incarceration of Kronos--and all who supported him--in Tartaros.

All I remember thinking was; 'Kronos is such a jerk! It's a good thing Zeus cast Him off of the throne!'

Now I'm a good deal older and a lot more versed in Hellenic mythology, I've come to rethink this position. I've since learned a good few things about Kronos that made me reconsider my opinion of Him. For one, Kronos, like Zeus, repeated a pattern He had learned from His parents. Ouranos did virtually the same to Kronos and the rest of His children as Kronos did, and for the same reason. Instead of eating them, Ouranos locked His many children in Tartaros. Kronos was the only one of Ouranos' children to take up the sickle His mother Gaea offered to Him and was eventually the one who cut off Ouranos' private parts and cast him down. 

Under Kronos' rule, men lived in a Golden Age. As Hesiod writes in Works and Days;

"First of all the deathless gods who dwell on Olympus made a golden race of mortal men who lived in the time of Cronos when he was reigning in heaven. And they lived like gods without sorrow of heart, remote and free from toil and grief: miserable age rested not on them; but with legs and arms never failing they made merry with feasting beyond the reach of all evils. When they died, it was as though they were overcome with sleep, and they had all good things; for the fruitful earth unforced bare them fruit abundantly and without stint. They dwelt in ease and peace upon their lands with many good things, rich in flocks and loved by the blessed gods."

After Kronos was cast down and men were ruled by Zeus, men slipped into the Silver Age, an age far worse than the Golden one;

"Then they who dwell on Olympus made a second generation which was of silver and less noble by far. It was like the golden race neither in body nor in spirit. A child was brought up at his good mother's side an hundred years, an utter simpleton, playing childishly in his own home. But when they were full grown and were come to the full measure of their prime, they lived only a little time in sorrow because of their foolishness, for they could not keep from sinning and from wronging one another, nor would they serve the immortals, nor sacrifice on the holy altars of the blessed ones as it is right for men to do wherever they dwell. Then Zeus the son of Cronos was angry and put them away, because they would not give honour to the blessed gods who live on Olympus."

When taking this under consideration, Zeus's actions against his father seem like a bad move for humanity. Although more ages followed, it never was again like it was in the Golden Age for us. It's something to think about, at least.

Kronos is often confused with Khronos; creator of the Gods and Lord of Time. Kronos--considered a harvest God for his link to the Golden Age--is outdated by Khronos by a few generations. In the Orphic cosmogony, Khronos was alone in the void. He created both Aether and Chaos who produced the Primordial Egg from with the hermaphroditic Theos Protogonos emerged. From Him, Ouranos was born, making Khronos, Kronos' great-grandfather. They are neither the same God, nor do they rule over the same domains. Most of the confusion comes from the Roman deity of Saturn, who is a harvest God, Father Time and the father of Jupiter--Zeus' equivalent--combined.

Saturn has His own festival in the Saturnalia but within Hellenismos, Kronos is honored during the Kronia. The Kronia was--and is--held on the twelfth day of the Attic month of Hekatombaion. I'll delve deeper into the Attic (Athenian) calendar in another post but this year, the Kronia was on July 2. I celebrated it today in a light but respectful manner. I followed standard practice, offered the darkest chocolate I could find (as well as Storax incense and barley) and read to Him the myths above, in which He overthrew His father and ruled over the Golden Age. 

Kronos is a a formidable Deity, a Titan of immeasurable power. Offering to Him seems only just. He's a strong ruler, a powerful harvest deity and a good example of the two sides every coin has. 

Did you celebrate Kronia? If so, how did it go? What are your experiences with Kronos? The comments section is open.


1 comment:

Maya M said...

I like this post. I think you are right. Moreover, while Kronos swallowed his children, Zeus swallowed His wife Metis. And, as far as I know, there is no myth in which she is released. I'd wish to read such a myth.