Cronus was the youngest of the Titans, the Greek deities who ruled the world before the arrival of Zeus* and the other Olympian gods and goddesses. Cronus seized power from his father, the sky god Uranus, and was later ousted by his own children. The Romans adopted Cronus as a member of their pantheon, renamed him Saturn, and worshiped him as a god of agriculture.
According to legend, Uranus had imprisoned several of his children in the body of his wife, the earth goddess Gaia. To punish him, Gaia asked her son Cronus to cut off Uranus's sex organs during the night. After carrying out his mother's wishes, Cronus replaced his father as ruler. He married his sister, Rhea, another Titan, and they began to have children. Learning that one of his offspring was fated to overcome him just as he had overcome his father, Cronus swallowed each baby as it was born. Rhea, however, managed to save their youngest child, Zeus, by feeding Cronus a stone wrapped in infants' clothing. She then arranged for the baby to be raised in secret.
When Zeus was grown, he forced Cronus to vomit up the swallowed children: the deities Hestia, Demeter*, Hera*, Hades*, and Poseidon*. Zeus also freed the giants and the Cyclopes* who had been imprisoned. Together they went to war against Cronus and the Titans and, after a violent struggle, emerged victorious. Zeus then banished the Titans to Tartarus, a place deep in the underworld.
deity god or goddess
pantheon all the gods of a particular culture
underworld land of the dead
In another version of the myth, Cronus's rise to power ushered in a peaceful golden age, which ended when the Titans were defeated. Following the battle, Cronus was sent to rule a distant paradise known as the Islands of the Blessed.