Star of the Sun
Saturn is not a conspicuous planet in the sky. Were
it not for its sluggish movement, an unaided eye would hardly distinguish
it from the surrounding stars. In many ancient sources Saturn is called
sun. The usual name for Saturn in Chaldean astronomy was Alap-Shamas,
meaning Star of the Sun. (1)
Diodorus of Sicily reported that the Chaldeans called Cronos (Saturn)
by the name Helios, or the sun, and he explained that this was because
Saturn was the most conspicuous of the planets;(2)
Hyginus also wrote that Saturn was called Sol. (3)
In the Babylonian astrological texts the word Shamash (Sun) was used to
designate Saturn: We learn from the notes written by the astrologers
that by the word sun we must understand the star of
the sun, i.e., Saturn. (4) Ninib
was the Babylonian name for Saturn: Ninib in various places is said
to shine like the sun. He was known as UT-GAL-LU, the great
sun of storms. (5) The Greeks used
to call Saturn Phaenon, the shining one. (6)
If Saturn was always as inconspicuous as it is at present,
what could have caused the races of antiquity, as if by common consent,
to give to Saturn the appellative sun or the shining
one ? The astrologers certainly must have found it increasingly
contrary to reason to associate the star that gives us light and life
with one of the palest, and the slowest of the planets. (7)
The folk etymology of the Hebrews explained the name
Khima as meaning about a hundred (keme-ah) stars.
The Bhagavat Gita contains the following description
of a deity: If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst at
once into the sky, that would be like the splendor of the mighty one .
. . the shatterer of worlds. (9)
All that we have considered up to now indicates that
Saturn once exploded in a nova-like burst of light. The date of this event
I would be hard-put to specify, even approximately, but possibly it took
place about ten thousand years ago. The solar system and reaches beyond
it were illuminated by the exploded star, and in a matter of a week the
Earth was enveloped in waters of Saturnian origin.
La bibliotheque du Palais du Ninive (Paris, 1890), p. 99.
He calls Saturn
epiphanestaton"the most conspicuous (II. 30. 3-4).
[J. Bidez, Revue de Philologie XXIX (1905),
pp. 319-320 drew attention to the fact that one of the best manuscripts
of the Platonic Epinomis, the Parisinus 1807A, has Sun
where Saturn would be expected in the passage where the
role of the planets is discussed. Bidez commented: . . . La
designation qui fait du Saturne lastre du soleil
se trouve attestee par un temoignage nouveau, extremement remarquable
a cause de son anciennete. Cf. F. Boll, Kronos-Helios,
Archiv fuer Religionswissenschaft XIX (1919), p. 344. The author
cites also other examples. In 1869 a stele dedicated to Kronos-Helios
was found in Beirut. See G. Colonna Ceccaldi, Stele inedite
de Beyrouth, Revue Archeologique 23 (1872), Vol. I, pp.
253-256. On the solar aspect of Saturns cult in Roman Africa,
see M. Leglay, Saturne Africain (Paris, 1966), pp. 183-187,
stella dicitur solis quam alii Saturni dixerunt. Hanc Eratosthenes
a Solis filio Phaethonta apellatam dicit. (Hyginus, De Astronomia
II. 42, 8-10. Cf. A. Bouche-Leclerq, Lastrologie grecque
(Paris, 1899), p. 93, n. 2.
R. C. Thompson, The Reports of the Magicians
and Astrologers of Nineveh and Babylon in the British Museum, Vol.
II (London, 1900), pp. xxv-xxvi (nos. 174 and 176). [Cf.
M. Jastrow, Sun and Saturn, Revue dAssyriologie
et dArcheologie Orientale VII (1910); and idem, Die Religion
Babyloniens und Assyriens (Giessen, 1905), Vol. II, p. 483 n. 4;
578, n. 4.]
P. Jensen, Die Kosmologie der Babylonier (Strassburg,
1890), pp. 116, 140. [Cf. Jastrow, Die Religion
Babyloniens und Assyriens Vol. I, pp. 57, 154.]
Natura Deorum II. 52. [Cf. Manetho, Apotelesmaticorum
libri sex IV. 14. Cf. also J. Geffcken, Eine gnostische
Vision, op. cit., p. 699. The
Shining Star was a designation for Saturn in Babylonia. See
for instance, an inscription of Nabonidus in James B. Pritchard ed.,
Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament (Princeton,
1950), p. 310.
In India the appelative of
the sun, arki, was also applied to Saturn. R. Temple writes
(The Sirius Mystery [New York, 1976], p. 180):
In Sanscrit again arka
means belonging or relating to the sun. Arkam
means as far as the sun, even to the sun inclusively.
Arki has become a name for Saturn, thought at that time to
be the most distant planet. Arc means to shine, be
brilliant, and can mean to cause to shine. Arkin
means radiant with light.
Arkaja, the name often applied
to Saturn, designates it as an offspring of the Sun (Markandeya
de Philologie, op. cit., p. 320: Les astrologues trouverent
sans doute de plus en plus deraisonnable de donner en appanage
a lastre dou nous vient la lumiere et la vie, une des
plus pales et la plus lente des planetes.
Rabbi Samuel in Tractate Brakhot, Seder Zeraim
of the Babylonian Talmud, IX, fol. 59.