The youngest of the Titans, son of Uranus and Gaea. He castrated and deposed his father and assumed power. Cronus and his wife Rhea ruled over the world which during that time experienced a golden age.
Cronus is the father of the younger generation of gods — Demeter, Hades, Hera, Hestia, Poseidon, and Zeus. A prophecy told him that one day he, in turn, would be overthrown by his son and so he devoured each of the children born by Rhea. Rhea managed to save one child, Zeus, by hiding him in a cave on Crete, and fed Cronus a rock wrapped in the clothes worn by the infant Zeus. Cronus believed that he had destroyed all of his offspring, and Zeus could grow up in safety.
When Zeus reached adulthood he waged a ten-year war against his father and when he had defeated him, Zeus forced him disgorge his siblings. He furthermore cast his father in the pit of Tartarus. Many years later, Zeus freed his father from his prison and made him king of Elysium.
In reminiscence of the golden age, the Greeks celebrated the Cronia (Κρόνια) in Athens, a Cronus-festival. The Κρόνια was said to have been introduced into Attica by Cecrops, and was was held on the twelfth of the month of Hecatombaeon,1 which, at an early period of the history of Attica, bore the name of μὴν Κρονίων (mēn Kroniōn).2 Cronus had a temple in common with Rhea.3 The Rhodians also celebrated a festival in honor of Cronus, to whom human sacrifices, generally consisting of criminals, were offered. The festival was held on the sixteenth of Metageitnion.4 Greek writers, when speaking of the Roman Saturnalia, apply to them the name Cronia which in the early times seem to have really resembled them in their excessive merriment.5
Cronus is regarded as the god of time as it affects the course of human life but should not be confused with Chronos, the god of time.
- Demosthenes against Timocrates, p. 708; Plutarch. Theseus, 12; Etymologicum Magnum, s.v.
- Athenaeus, xiii, p. 581.
- Pausanias. Description of Greece i, 18.7; comp. vi, 20.1.
- Porphyry. Absence, ii, 54.
- See Athenaeus, xiv, p. 639; Appian. The Samnite Wars, 10.5; Buttmann. Mythologus ii, p. 52 ff.
- Hesiod. Theogony, 137, 452 ff.
- Pseudo-Apollodorus. The Library i, 1.3 ff.
- Smith, William. (1870). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. London: Taylor, Walton, and Maberly.
This article incorporates text from Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890) by William Smith, which is in the public domain.