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Saturdays are perfect days for pleasant surprises. Surprise—we’re talking about Saturn today!
We all know Saturn as the beautiful, beringed sixth planet from the Sun, but how many know for whom this picturesque gas giant is named? The original Saturn was a god of ancient Rome, a deity whose portfolio ranged from concrete concerns like agriculture, abundance, and wealth to dissolution and liberation.
Why was Saturn the planet named for Saturn the god? Certainly not for the penchant of the latter for regularly devouring his own children—don’t worry, they always found their way free. Rather, the Roman Saturn was conflated with the Greek agricultural god Chronos and assumed his rulership over time. Saturn in space certainly takes its time as the slowest of the visible planets, which explains the connection.
Saturday is also named for the mighty Saturn. So is Saturnism—archaic term for lead poisoning—due to the deity’s association with the original heavy metal.
Some worthwhile words derive from Saturn:
saturnine (adj) - gloomy or morose, often in a heavy or bitter way; scowling and slow; dark complexioned; mocking
BREAKDOWN: SATURN- (Saturn) + -INE (quality of)
saturnalia (noun) - originally, a major Roman religious festival celebrating the harvest and renewal; now any unrestrained or wild celebration or revelry
saturnalian means unrestrained, riotously merry, or orgiastic.
“Revolution is like Saturn, it devours its own children.” —Georg Buchner