Saturn, Penis, and All-Devouring Time

Macrobius, Saturnalia 1.8.9-10

“The faculty of propagation through eternity was eventually transferred from water to Venus, so that everything would subsequently be born from the intercourse of male and female. Because of the story about the castration of Kronos, our countrymen to this day call him Saturn, on account of the Greek word sathen, which means ‘penis,’ as if to say Sathurn. Similarly, they think that Satyrs are actually called Sathyrs, because they are rather prone to libidinous pursuits. They think that the sickle is attributed to Saturn because time (Chronos) measures and subsequently crops and cuts all things. They say that Saturn used to devour his children and vomit them back up; by this, it is meant that he is identified with Time (Chronos), by whose agency all things come into being and, in their turn, are devoured and then reborn.”

Animalium vero aeternam propagationem ad Venerem generandi facultas ex humore translata est: ut per coitum maris feminaeque cuncta deinceps gignerentur. 9 Propter abscisorum pudendorum fabulam etiam nostri eum Saturnum vocitaverunt, παρὰ τὴν σάθην, quae membrum virile declarat, veluti Sathurnum: inde etiam Satyros veluti Sathunos, quod sint in libidinem proni, appellatos opinantur. Falcem ei quidam aestimant attributam, quod tempus omnia metat exsecet et incidat. 10 Hunc aiunt filios suos solitum devorare, eosdemque rursus evomere: per quod similiter significatur eum tempus esse a quo vicibus cuncta gignantur absumanturque et ex eo denuo renascantur.

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