“Who or what is this Saturn?” Klukelunnen asked once Daisy had safely returned him to his pink palace prison.
The girl wrinkled her small freckled nose. “You sure the professor said that? ‘Beloved of Saturn.’ Only Saturn’s a planet, sixth from the Sun. But … ah, yea! The ancient Roman feast of Saturnalia—source of most of our Christmas customs but you probably don’t know about that. The Romans converted the feast into Christmas when they got Christianity. According to Mum, they did a lot of that sort of thing. You know, gods into saints, and stuff—though maybe you don’t know about that either. So, was Saturn a Roman god? Must have been; all the planets are named for them: Mars, Mercury. Venus … You want me to look?” She was already hop-skipping away, gone to fetch her magical box of Information and Games.
“So what’s a god?” he called after her.
She stopped and turned. “A god? Um … well, it’s a … a kind of … I suppose a non-corporeal being—but not a ghost. Though there is the Holy Ghost: that’s part of the Christian Trinity—a threesome, sort of, but not like a ménage à trois. Though I don’t suppose you’d know about that, either. Let me get my box of tricks. I’ll soon have the answers.”
Box fetched, she sat on the floor outside his ‘palace’ while she swiped screens and hit pictures. She said some of the pictures were letters. The alphabet, she called it. But when she listed the letters in the alphabet they didn’t sequent the same as they did on the screen. That magical box in no way resembled Grandma’s Spell-book. But then everything in this World of Man and His Kind seemed tits-over-toes.
“Saturn,” she said. “Oh. Just listen to this, I’ll read it to you. ‘Saturn was known from earliest times as the god of generation … dis…solution, of agriculture and thus of wealth-and-plenty, and of … periodic renewal and liberation.’ What’s that mean? ‘He later became the god of time.’ Yea, of course, that explains it! Christmas, New Year, Old Father Time. Oh, and look at this. ‘He had magical lordship over creation and destruction.’ That’s interesting, with what you’ve said about the Usurper.”
“Magical lordship over creation and destruction?” Klukelunnen repeated. “But Grandma created everything—though only here, not the stars and all that’s above and beyond. She only made what’s inward from the World of Man and His Kind right down to the Core. So, she set this Saturn to govern it all?”
“Oversee and supervise,” Daisy provided a more suitable phrase. “To make sure everything functions right. To call in ‘Repairs’ if something needs fixing.”
“But, ‘Beloved of Saturn’; why would it hurt for you to know that? And what of these secrets he says I hold?”
“Maybe the professor believes me a Christian?” she said. “Though I’m sure that I’ve told him before that I’m not. But if I were, then I suppose I might be upset to know your Grandma created it all and set this Saturn-god to supervise it thereafter. And here are you, beloved of him. What’d you reckon, you think that’s likely?”
“Perhaps,” he said, but he was far from convinced. And the more he thought … No, that would be self-defeating. For it only proved the professor’s Nameless Lord to be the Usurper, just as Grandma had said. “Does your magical box say anything else about him? About Saturn, I mean.”
“He a.k.’s as Chronos,” she said. “You know, Saturn as the god of time. I suppose that’s why clocks are called chronometers. But, says here, Chronos comes from the Greek, Cronus. That’s good; Greek mythology’s much better known. The libraries bulge with books about that.”
She swiped, jabbed and tapped at her magical box. Klukelunnen wished he were out of the hutch and sitting beside her, the better to see the pictures.
“Cronus,” she read from the screen. “Father of Zeus. Hey, listen to this. Cronus (a.k.a. Saturn, yea) was a divine descendant of Uranus, the sky, and Gaia, the earth. But then, according to Plato—I think he was a philosopher, or … didn’t he have a school? Anyway, according to him, the three deities … For-kiss—I think that’s how it’s said—Cronus and Rhea—I know that’s said right cos I’ve a friend named Rhea—were the eldest children of Ocean-us and Tethys. But the ocean’s a sea, and I know there used to be a sea called the Tethys, too. So were these three deities originally water gods?”
“But Saturn’s no water god,” Klukelunnen said. “Not from what you’ve said. He belongs to us Stones, not to the Nixies. Anyway, I reckon for Grandma to appoint this Saturn as overseer of her creation, he must have belonged in the sky. Offspring of Uranus, didn’t you say? Uranus and Gaia, and there’s no mistaking, this Gaia is Grandma. So, if I’m beloved of Grandma’s son, doesn’t that make this Saturn my father?”
“Or uncle?” Daisy suggested, and Klukelunnen nodded at the logic of that. “See, it says here that Cronus overthrew his father and ruled during the mythological Golden Age until he, too, was overthrown by his own son, Zeus. Now, I ask, Klukelunnen, are you Zeus? Unlikely, since I already know that Zeus was a god of the sky—of the Heavens, like Grandma’s Usurper.”
“Aye,” Klukelunnen began to agree. Then thought. “But likely Cronus made more than one son. Likely, if this Cronus is Saturn, he made lots of sons. He was god of plenty, wasn’t he? God of wealth? And what’s a precious stone if it’s not wealth?”
“You have a point there,” she agreed. “But I wouldn’t jump too hard on it; just listen to this. You know the scythe pictured with Old Father Time? Though, no, I don’t suppose you do. Well, anyway, that’s what Cronus used to castrate his father Uranus. How’d you castrate the sky? But I suppose that means he de-powered him, so Cronus-Saturn could then take his place.”
She continued to read from the screen while Klukelunnen tried to make sense of this latest snippet. He didn’t like the implications of that. Saturn, as much a usurper as the Usurper? The only difference was that Saturn had usurped his father, while the Nameless Usurper had usurped Saturn’s mother, Grandma.
“Ah,” Daisy said in a tone suggestive of Archimedes in his famous bath (Daisy had told him that story in explanation of why she refused to bring him the pink bathing-bowl full to brimming with water). “There’s another story here. The blood that spilled from Uranus fell to the earth and engendered the Gi-gant-es, Erin-yes and Meli-ae—you want me to look them up? Only they’re not the bit that I mean.”
“Gi-gant-es?” Klukelunnen said. “Giants? Now that is interesting. But go on—we can always come back to them.”
“So that was the blood of Uranus, yea. But what of his testicles? By this story, as they fell into the sea they produced a white foam from which Aphrodite emerged. Aphrodite is the Roman Venus—the only one of the inner planets NOT accredited as a child of Zeus. I think all this has nothing to do with the gods. It’s about stars. White foam, the Milky Way, yea? Okay, so you wouldn’t know but …” She rolled her eyes. “I’m off at a tangent again. Mum’s always telling me off for that—lack of focus, she says.”
“It’s all very interesting,” he said. “But it doesn’t tell me why you’re not to like me once you know who I am.”
“Maybe it’s because you ARE Zeus?”
He laughed at that. “God of the Heavens, did you call him? But I live in a cave, far beneath this World of Man and His Kind.”
But she wasn’t to be gainsaid. “Yea, but Zeus was born in a cave. He had to be, to keep him away from his father Cronus who otherwise would have swallowed him. See, it says here that Cronus knew he was destined to be overthrown by his own sons. And so he was. By Zeus, the only one he didn’t eat.” Then, as if the answer had finally come to her, she said, with no little awe, “Cronus ate babies! Of course. The cult of Cronus was another of those that sacrificed babies. We learned about this in school. Mel- … Mel- … oh, what was his name? He’s in the Bible. Molek, that’s it. Now wouldn’t you think if I knew that, that you were pals with a god who ate up babies, that I wouldn’t want to be with you?”
Klukelunnen frowned, eyes squinted tight, trying to follow her reasoning. But ‘Beloved of Saturn’ wasn’t Saturn himself—neither Saturn, Cronus, nor this Molek. Yet if Saturn was this monstrous god with a taste for new-born flesh … The Destroyer! The name came to him in a flash. For new-born flesh was Grandma’s work, as the Creator. But … he tried to figure it. If Saturn was that, what or who would he most love?