Fascinating Stories About the Greek God Cronos

Statue of Saturn or Cronos
Statue of Saturn or Cronos. Clipart.com

The Greek deities Cronos and his wife, Rhea, ruled the world during mankind's Golden Age

Cronos (also spelled Kronos or Kronus) was the youngest of the first-generation Titans. More significantly, he sired the gods and goddesses of Mount Olympus. The first-generation Titans were children of Mother Earth and Father Sky. Earth was known as Gaia and Sky as Ouranos or Uranus.

The Titans weren't the only children of Gaia and Ouranos. There were also the 100-handers (the Hecatoncheires) and the Cyclops. Ouranos imprisoned these creatures, who were Cronos' brothers, in the underworld, specifically in the place of torment known as Tartarus (Tartaros).

Cronos Rises to Power

Gaia was not happy that so many of her children had been locked up in Tartaros, so she asked the 12 Titans for a volunteer to help her out. Only Cronos was brave enough. Gaia gave him an adamantine sickle with which to castrate his father. Cronos obliged. Once castrated, Ouranos was no longer fit to rule, so the Titans awarded ruling power to Cronos, who then freed his siblings the Hecatoncheires and the Cyclops. But soon he re-imprisoned them.

Cronos and Rhea

The Titan brothers and sisters married one another. The two humanoid Titans, Rhea and Cronos, married, producing the gods and goddesses of Mt. Olympus. Cronos was told that he would be deposed by his son, just as he had deposed his father. Cronos, determined to prevent this, used extreme preventive measures. He devoured the children to whom Rhea gave birth.

When Zeus was about to be born, Rhea gave her husband a stone wrapped in swaddling to swallow instead. Rhea, clearly about to give birth, raced to Crete before her husband could tell she had deceived him. She raised Zeus there safely.

As with most myths, there are variations. One has Gaia giving Cronos a horse to swallow in place of the sea and horse god Poseidon, so Poseidon, like Zeus, was able to grow up safely.

Cronos Dethroned

Somehow Cronos was induced to take an emetic (exactly how is debated), after which he vomited out the children he had swallowed.

The regurgitated gods and goddesses got together with the gods who hadn't been swallowed—like Zeus—to fight the Titans. The battle between the gods and Titans was called the Titanomachy. It lasted a long time, with neither side having an advantage until Zeus re-freed his uncles, the Hecatoncheires and the Cyclopes, from Tartarus.

When Zeus and company won, he shackled and imprisoned the Titans in Tartarus. Zeus released Cronos from Tartarus to make him the ruler of the underworld area called the Islands of the Blest.

Cronos and the Golden Age

Before Zeus came to power, mankind had lived blissfully in the Golden Age under Cronos' rule. There was no pain, death, disease, hunger, or any other evil. Mankind was happy and children were born autochthonously, meaning they were actually born out of the soil. When Zeus came to power, he put an end to mankind's happiness.

Cronos' Attributes

Despite his being fooled by the stone in swaddling clothes, Cronos is regularly described as wily, like Odysseus. Cronos is associated with agriculture in Greek mythology and honored at a harvest festival. He is described as having a wide beard.

Cronos and Saturn

The Romans had an agricultural god named Saturn, who was in many ways the same as the Greek god Cronos. Saturn married Ops, who is associated with the Greek goddess (Titan) Rhea. Ops was the patroness of wealth. The festival known as the Saturnalia honors Saturn.