Son of Uranus and Gaea, Cronus was the head of the first generation of Titans and the king of all god and humans. He led a rebellion against his tyrannical father Uranus, only to become a tyrannical ruler just like his father. To prevent himself from being overthrown, he swallowed all of his children but Zeus, who eventually defeated and locked Cronus in Tartarus.

He has five brothers – Iapetus, Crius, Coeus, Hyperion, and Oceanus – and six sisters – Mnemosyne, Themis, Rhea, Phoebe, Tethys, and Theia. Cronus married his sister Rhea and fathered Zeus, Hades, Demeter, Poseidon, Hestia, and Hera. One tale says that he deceived Rhea and secretly mated with Philyra, leading to the birth of Chiron, the centaur.

Creation and Overthrow

Cronus’ story begins with he and his siblings locked in the womb of Gaea. Cronus hated Uranus, so, when Gaea offered him a sickle to aid in escape, Cronus agreed. One night, Uranus came to sleep with Gaea, and Cronus castrated him, freeing himself and his siblings from their mother’s womb.

After escape, Cronus declared himself the ruler of everything, and life for all was peaceful for some time. Humans were able to live life with little toil, and they grew to be very old. This was the Golden Age. Eventually, Cronus became concerned about his rule, just as his father had before him. A prophecy said that his child would overthrow him, so he ate his children up.

A pregnant Rhea had turned to Gaea for help because of her experience with Uranus. Gaea told Rhea to hide the baby on the island Crete and to present Cronus with a stone that looked like a baby. Meanwhile, Zeus was being raised by the nymphs on Crete. Cronus never suspected that his wife had saved the child who would eventually come to overpower him.

When he was finally prepared, Zeus disguised himself as the cupbearer of Cronus and slipped him a drink that made Cronus throw up his children. This lead to a war called the Titomachy between the Titans and the Olympian gods. The war lasted for a decade, but the Titans were finally overcome by Zeus and the rest of the Olympian gods.

After the war, Cronus either escaped to Latium or was locked away in Tartarus with the rest of the Titans. His time away served as a form of rehabilitation for him. Cronus turned away from tyranny and was named the leader of the Island of the Blessed. The Island of the Blessed is said to be the place where the souls of heroes go after death.

Fast Facts

  • The Romans believed that Cronus (called Saturn) was not that bad because he incited a Golden Age in Rome.
  • Cronus locked Hecatoncheires and the Cyclopes in Tartarus and had Campe guard them before the beginning of the Titomachy.
  • The Golden Age that occurred under Cronus is said to be the best of the five ages of men.
  • Without Cronus, the reign of Uranus would not have ended.
  • Without Cronus, the reign of Zeus would not have started.
  • The name Cronus is often confused with chronos, the Greek word for time.
  • Father Time and Cronus share a lack of mercy, a beard, and a scythe, but Cronus got his scythe from Gaea.
  • Some say that the beings who lived during the Golden Age died during the Titomachy, and that their souls lived on in the new age.