Modern Myth Articles
Ancient Myth Articles
Ancient Saturn Worship
The Star of Dawn
Site Section Links
Sorting Out Names of Suns and Planets
"Saturn" (the Universal Monarch) has both elder and younger aspects. I think it may have been Macrobius who said that the younger Saturn is Jupiter and the elder Jupiter is Saturn. (Be that as it may, I didn't invent the idea!) :>). The principle is inherent in Greek approaches to the two gods. Though Kronos and Zeus were clearly two different planets in Greek times, their biographies nevertheless overlap. Zeus is acknowledged to be the younger form of Kronos, of course. However, the two aspects are impossible to miss: Kronos is never portrayed as a victor over world-threatening dragons of darkness.
You see the same thing in the relationship of Osiris to Ra. Osiris is inseparably connected to Ra as the son of Ra, and the "second Ra", but he is certainly not IDENTICAL to Ra. The Egyptians remembered Atum-Ra as the central sun presiding over the creation and the First Time; and they gave detailed accounts of the god's first appearance. No such story is told of Osiris.
Conversely, Ra has virtually disappeared in connection with the Osiris story, as recounted in the Sed Festival ritual and numerous other accounts. This is a story of cosmic transition - death, dismemberment, resurrection, and transfiguration. For all intents and purposes Atum-Ra is not even around at the more critical junctures, any more than Anu or Shamash are involved in the cosmic ordeal confronting Marduk (Jupiter) in the Babylonian Akitu festival. (Anu has already fled the scene when Marduk confronts the dragon Tiamat.) Nor do any of the great "sun" gods - with whom the planet Saturn was identified - figure directly in this "second half of the story". It is always the younger form of the Universal Monarch that we see emerging victorious from the period of cosmic darkness. At some point you have to reckon with the underlying pattern here, for which there MUST be an explanation.
It is interesting to note that the Babylonian priests of Marduk/Jupiter, in listing various tribal names of the god, include the name Asar, which happens to be the name of the Egyptian Osiris. Taken alone, I would not make a point of this, nor of the fact that various Egyptologists (among them, E.A.W. Budge) HAVE linked Osiris to Jupiter. The line of reasoning is really much more fundamental and based on world patterns which do not seem to allow for any other identification. Who could deny that the best-known Jupiter figures are "born" from Saturn- figures, and are seen as the younger and triumphant forms of the father. Possible physical explanations for the sequence may vary, but I do not see how the fundamental paternal relationship could be denied. And in ancient myth, the idea "to be born from" is a very literal idea, one certainly not suggestive of a personality arriving from elsewhere in the sky.
The seeming paradox is actually the key. Are we dealing with one sovereign power, or two? The fact that both answers are correct is a direct pointer to the solution. One mythical figure progressively separates into two aspects precisely because these two aspects became two separate planets. It was no doubt easy for the Greeks to see Kronos and Jupiter as separate, even warring powers, despite their paternity. It was easy to identify Kronos, the displaced form, with the powers of cosmic rebellion, because the very existence of two different planets worked against the idea of one underlying personality. But the Egyptian material, of course, preceded all observational astronomy and all ideas of separate "planets". So the emphasis is naturally on the manifestation of the elder in the new form of the younger.
Nevertheless, you will still find in Greek sources many indications of the original idea - one sovereign power manifesting himself in a succession of "forms". In Orphic cosmology Dionysos will be seen as the supreme power finding form in successive personalities or "bodies" of the primary gods. Before the dismemberment of Dionysos at the hands of the Titans, "he became a youthful Zeus, an aged Kronos, a babe, a youth".
In the pairing of Kronos and Zeus you will never find the "elder" and "youthful" roles reversed, despite the fact that Zeus was often presented as a sovereign power encompassing all of the creative roles elsewhere reserved for Kronos (including even the "castration" of his own father, a story element in the bios of BOTH gods).
An interesting comparison would be the Hindu Brahma, though the Hindus achieved a far more elevated philosophical concept. In the course of creation, Brahma manifest himself in a succession of forms, DISCARDING PREVIOUS BODIES in the juncture between world ages. That is one very natural interpretation in the sequence we are dealing with. Because the story clearly arose before astronomy and was told without reference to remote planets on predictable orbits, it can help to illuminate those traditions which WERE influenced by later planetary identities. The new form of the god displaced in the world-changing crisis is always Jupiter. And that is the fundamental character of the Egyptian god Osiris, I believe.
DWARDU CARDONA ASKS: If Cochrane is correct in that Indra was Mars (with which you agree), then so must have been the Greek Zeus. Their mythological profile is identical. Who, then, in your scenario, would stand for the planet Jupiter in Greek mythology?
TALBOTT RESPONDS: There is no question in my mind about the equation of Indra and Mars. In the case of Indra, there are so many documented Martian attributes and episodes as to make the case airtight. Indra is a more authentic, more obviously cosmic version of Heracles, the latter's cosmic stature being progressively diminished over time (as was Indra's in many later traditions).
For several years I tentatively accepted the conventional scholarly identification of Indra with Zeus. It was in the early eighties that Ev suggested an identity with Mars, and that made me curious enough to investigate. The result was a hands-down victory for the Martian identity. Moreover, the entire basis for any equation with Zeus collapsed.
Oversimplifying, it is the difference between a sovereign god (Jupiter) who HURLS lightning as a weapon against chaos, and a god (Mars) who IS or PERSONIFIES the lightning-weapon itself- this "lightning" being represented in the form of an arrow, dart, sword, spear, trident, phallus, etc. Mars is the vertical, electrically active, piercing weapon in service of the sovereign power. Such a statement cannot be made about Zeus, who IS the sovereign power, allowing for not even a hint of another master.
Zeus, of course, was the Greek name of the planet Jupiter.
While numerous warrior-hero figures were progressively brought down to earth, or humanized and diminished over time, there was also a tendency for the sovereign power to fall into the background, due to his more passive role. (Contrast the incredibly active role of the warrior-hero, which provided endless story content for the myth-makers.) This growing vacuum was often filled by the most revered hero-figure. You will see these tendencies clearly in the case of Indra. While his worshippers sought to elevate his stature above all other gods, the less devout chroniclers progressively reduced his stature to a more human, or even demonic form. But from start to finish the STORY is the story of Mars.