Myths of the Moons: An Overview of Saturn’s Moons

Moving away from Zeus (Jupiter), we come to his father, Saturn (Kronos).

Now, I sometimes have issues with my father; but at least he never ate me.

Yes, that’s what Kronos did; he swallowed little Zeus up, afraid that his child would overtake his kingdom. Kronos represented a lost age, and he knew it: the Titans were doomed to be overcome by their children, the Olympians.

So, he ate them.

All of them.

Francisco de Goya, Saturno_devorando_a_su_hij

In last week’s post, we explored how Zeus ate Metis; this theme of cannibalism runs through Greek mythology. In the case of Zeus, it resulted in the birth of Athena. In the case of Saturn, it gave rise to the Olympians.

The war that ensued is known as the Titanomachy, or the War of the Gods. It didn’t end well for the Titans.

Most were condemned to Tartarus, which is English for Hell. While the majority of these Elder Gods were banished at the end of the war, a few Titans were allowed to remain. One of them, Prometheus, forged mankind. He also had the guile to steal fire from Zeus and bestow it as a gift to us humans.

For this sin he spent an eternity in Tartarus, where he was tortured on a nightly basis: an eagle came to peck away at his liver (which, for the Greeks, was the embodiment of the soul).

His brother, Epimethius, fared far, far worse. But we won’t talk about Pandora today. (nor the poetics of her vase, which held back only one misery, Hope).

Instead, let’s consider the discovered moons of Saturn, Jupiter’s all devouring father:

  • Titan
  • Tethys
  • Dione
  • Rhea
  • Iapetus
  • Mimas
  • Enceladus
  • Phoebe
  • Janus
  • Epimetheus

There are many more moons; 60+ at the present time. Atlas, Prometheus, Pandora and Pan are just a few of them; but for the sake of sanity, we’ll focus on the most visible of Saturn’s orbital bodies, starting next week with Titan.

But what can we say of Saturn himself?

Well, he’s got a whole day named in his honor. Saturday is Saturn’s day, Shabbathai in Hebrew. If you move slowly on a Saturday, you’re in good company; Saturn (or Shani, as he’s called in Sanskrit) is the slowest visible planet, (or wanderers, as the Greeks called them). We call the amount of time the Earth takes to round our sun a year, or 365 days.

It takes poor Saturn nearly 30 years to get around the same star. 30 solid years.

Slow means time: if you’ve ever had a chronometer, consider the prefix: chronos, kronos, Saturn: the slow-moving god of time, the slow-moving god of the seasons. There is a reason that of all the wanderers, Kronos, the slowest of them all, got to be king.

Until next week, be Kings, Queens, or anything else that strikes your fancy (we don’t judge!). And as you make your way slowly among the stars,

Remember this:

Try not to eat your kids.

At least not the cute ones. Cross that out, Jupiter was pretty cute.

Not to mention tasty.

Next time, on to Titan!

Leave a Reply