The Roman God Saturn: Facts & Overview

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  • 0:00 Saturn the Roman God
  • 0:24 The Mythology of Saturn
  • 2:12 Saturn & the…
  • 3:44 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

In this lesson, you'll explore the history, mythology and significance of the Roman god Saturn, and you'll test your understanding of Ancient Roman mythology, history and culture.

Saturn the Roman God

Look up at the night sky and try to find the planet Saturn. You can find it without a telescope during certain times of the year. It's named after the Roman god Saturn, a deity in the ancient Roman pantheon, or collection of gods. The Romans believed in several deities, each of whom played an important role in their culture. A religion that worships multiple deities is called polytheistic.

The Mythology of Saturn

Saturn was the Roman version of the Greek figure Kronos. Kronos was the evil father of Zeus, Hades, and Poseidon who was defeated by Zeus. The Romans identified Saturn with Kronos and kept his lineage; Jupiter is the Roman equivalent of Zeus and is son of Saturn. However, the comparisons to Kronos really stop there. Saturn may display some influences of Kronos, but he was a wholly Roman god. According to some myths, when Saturn was banished from Mount Olympus - the home of the Greek gods - he came to Italy.

In Italy, Saturn taught the people the secrets of agriculture, specifically of grapes and the process of turning those grapes into wine. The time when he watched over the Roman people was said to be an era of peace and plenty when the harvest was always full, there was no war, and there was plenty of wine. Saturn's name may even derive from the word 'satu', meaning sowing in terms of agriculture. Saturn did have a dark side, however. His double nature is shown through his companions. His wife Ops was associated with wealth and abundance while his other companion, Lua, was a goddess of destruction who kept the weapons of enemies killed in war.

Due to his prominent role in founding Roman culture through agriculture and wine and his association with wealth and plenty, Saturn was the first god of the Capitol, one of Rome's seven hills where government buildings including the Senate and the Forum were located. Roman places from homes to hills always had gods associated with them who were supposed to protect them and influence the people there. The more significant the place, the more important the god had to be. Naming Saturn the god of the Capitol indicates his importance. The Temple of Saturn in the Roman Forum was used to house the state treasury, where Saturn could watch over the wealth of Rome.

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