Saturn - Lore, Myths, and Legends

About Saturn, lore, myths, legends, and theories from different cultures.


Lore: Saturn, one of the five planets visible from the earth with the naked eye, was known from earliest times. The Assyrians gave it a name that translates as "oldest of the old sheep," perhaps because Saturn moves so slowly among the stars. This may account for its Latin name, too. Saturn was the Roman god of agriculture, and the name is related to both seed and sowing; ancient skywatchers may have been reminded of the slow gait of plowing oxen or grazing cattle.

Ptolemy, although mistakenly placing the earth at the center of the solar system, understood that Saturn was the most distant of the visible planets. More than a millennium later, after Islamic astronomers had synthesized Indian and Greek astronomical tables with their own observations and introduced this blend into Europe, Ibn-Ragel, a Moorish astronomer of Toledo, described Saturn as an old, weary recluse, large and slow-moving in the depths of space.

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