Sunday, December 18, 2011

Golden Years...

Since it's Saturnalia, I've been reading the treatise, Saturnalia, by Macrobius. In it he discusses how Janus is said to have instituted Saturnalia and how Saturn is asleep somewhere, awaiting his chance to return. Saturn is oft associated with the Golden Age. I recall reading this in reference to Astraea, of whom it's said she was the last of the Gods to remain on earth through the end of the Silver age. She was eventually disgusted enough to retreat to the heavens where she is the constellation Virgo holding the scales of justice, aka Libra.

The Golden Age is alleged to have been a time when humanity did no work, the earth was so fruitful and abundant that farming wasn't necessary, and everyone lived in harmonious community with no fighting, no property, no law breaking for there were no laws and no need for laws... sounds like paradise. Or at least like John Lennon's vision.

In the following age, with the reign of Jupiter and the rest of the Pantheon, or Zeus and the Olympians, we now have scarcity, the need for agriculture, property, murder, and all of the nasty business now associated with humanity.

So what the fuck happened?

Can we take this as an allegory for the procession of the equinoxes?

With Saturn as the Lord of Time, can the Moon-as-Sun folks be right? There are people who believe the earth's moon was another sun with the earth suspended between the two. Night didn't exist, it was always day, earth was a paradise, etc. Much how the Golden Age is pictured. Then "something" happened and the second sun exploded creating what is now the moon and the rest of the planets and time itself. If it's always day, if the sky is never changing, there is no way to track time/time does not exist. Not saying this is my theory, but it kind of fits with the four ages theory, so I figured I'd add it in.

There is a Golden Age referred to in Hindu teachings, and even in Norse lore.

Here is an excerpt from Ovid's Metamorphoses about the change from one age to the next, from Saturn to Jupiter:

Nor swords were forg'd; but void of care and crime,
The soft creation [humans] slept away their time.
The teeming Earth, yet guiltless of the plough,
And unprovok'd, did fruitful stores allow:
Content with food, which Nature freely bred,
On wildings and on strawberries they fed;
Cornels and bramble-berries gave the rest,
And falling acorns furnish'd out a feast.
The flow'rs unsown, in fields and meadows reign'd:
And Western winds immortal spring maintain'd.
In following years, the bearded corn ensu'd
From Earth unask'd, nor was that Earth renew'd.
From veins of vallies, milk and nectar broke;
And honey sweating through the pores of oak.

The But when good Saturn, banish'd from above,
Silver Age Was driv'n to Hell, the world was under Jove.
Succeeding times a silver age behold,
Excelling brass, but more excell'd by gold.
Then summer, autumn, winter did appear:
And spring was but a season of the year.
The sun his annual course obliquely made,
Good days contracted, and enlarg'd the bad.
Then air with sultry heats began to glow;
The wings of winds were clogg'd with ice and snow;
And shivering mortals, into houses driv'n,
Sought shelter from th' inclemency of Heav'n.
Those houses, then, were caves, or homely sheds;
With twining oziers fenc'd; and moss their beds.
Then ploughs, for seed, the fruitful furrows broke,
And oxen labour'd first beneath the yoke.

So why is Saturn portrayed as the bad guy? Sure, it's said he ate his kids, but what happened when Saturn no longer reigned? The seasons began, people sought shelter, scarcity was the rule and now everyone had to fight to survive. And if there's supposed to be a second coming of Saturn, and that age is lauded as a good thing- another return to the golden age, then why was his statue kept bound except on Saturnalia? Especially if the merry making, lack of fighting, time off from work and celebration of equality are the main points of Saturnalia.

Holiday food for thought!

1 comment: