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By Dave Talbott
[The following comments are excerpted from the Kronia
electronic discussion group and should be read in conjunction
with other published articles.]
"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.