When I was growing up, we watched Rudolph’s Shiny New Year every year. In this cartoon Rudolph has to locate the new year so the old one can retire. The old year is pictured as an old man with a long, white beard, the traditional representation of Father Time. I mention this because Father Time is an icon most of us have seen at some time or another.
In Greek mythology, Cronus is one of the gods associated with time. There are a number of myths about him and his actions, including several that contradict each other, but one consistency is his association with time.
Cronus was a Titan, one of the children of Gaia. He was her youngest and the only one willing to stand up to his father Uranus. It was Cronus who took his mother’s sickle, or harpe (depending on which myth you read), and castrated Uranus. He then rose to power over the gods.
The reign of Cronus was during the Golden Age of humanity, according to Hesiod’s Works and Days. This was a time of great peace and prosperity, a time when all things grew. Animals were said to have spoken like humans, and there was harmony in all things. (Kind of makes me wonder why someone would want to screw it up.)
Cronus’s wife was Rhea, and the two of them were the parents of the Olympians. Gaia and Uranus prophesied that Cronus would be overthrown by one of his children, so he ate each of them as he/she was born. All except Zeus, who was hidden by his mother.
Cronus’s children rose up and overthrew him, and Cronus and the other Titans were imprisoned in Tartarus. According to the myths, Tartarus was as far beneath the earth as the earth was beneath heaven (an anvil falling would take nine days to reach it.). The realm was ringed in bronze and and night, and the sky was the roots of the earth. Cronus was imprisoned in chains, while his children ruled the earth and sky above.
Cronus was eventually released from Tartarus and made ruler over the Isles of the Blessed, where the righteous went after death.
Cronus is associtated with time, and the myths of his life represent the passage of time and how it devours all things in its path. There is a beginning, a middle, and an end to all things, and they pattern simply repeats itself with each new thing. This is true whether its our lives, from birth to death, or the different phases of our lives. Even a specific project follows the same pattern, and even a mighty mountain must eventually succumb to the ravages of time.
This is just a brief glimpse of Cronus. For those who want to read more, there are a few links listed below.