Chronos, or Saturn, is called the eldest of the gods, that is, of those who are known upon earth. When Saturn ruled the earth, it was the age of gold. In Parsifal, Saturn is Titurel, the holy primaeval king, in whose day all went well. But age has withered him. Jupiter, the only child of his that he did not devour, has tricked him of his throne. Now, this golden age is the age of agriculture unfettered, the patriarchal age of Abraham. There was no pressure from without or from within. Mankind lived freely and easily. Love had no after taste of bitterness, and death itself was, indeed, the twin brother of sleep. 

But Time, devouring his children, has also eaten into his own bones. Jupiter being crowned, Saturn becomes a “back number.” He is no longer thought of as the clement king, but as the old man, envious of his juniors. It is chiefly this aspect which we see in the {403} planet called after him. Saturn represents agriculture, indeed, but from the point of view of the townsman; the work seems coarse, heavy, laborious, and dull. And he has all the vices of age, as well as its disabilities. 

Man may be master of life and of death – if he will. To the worker in the fields of the intelligence, the farmer of mind, the harvest grows continually. Saturn is once again the golden god. The brain of the brain worker improves constantly until the age of sixty, and even then retains its vigor until the end. Such old men we often see. Instead of the vices and infirmities of age, they have consolidated virtues, conserved strength. Dignity and austerity crown and cloak them. They are simple, strenuous and lofty-minded. Even if they are of solitary habit, they are kind. The purpose of their lives has crystallized; and, because they have desired only the infinite, satiety does not touch them. Life is to them a religion of which they are the priests, an eternal sacrament of which perhaps the ecstasy is dulled, but which they consume with ever-increasing reverence. Joy and sorrow have been balanced, and the tale thereof is holy calm. They know that peace of God which passeth all understanding. 

The commoner aspect of Saturn, however, is this: the malicious oldster, envious of youth, hating life because he has failed to live it according to the law of righteousness. His will-power is merely obstinacy, opposition to reform, failure to accommodate himself to changed conditions, the conservatism of the hardened brain. He feels his waning powers and tries to receive – to receive, when all his sensibility is gone! Feeling himself impotent, he vents his toothless rage upon the young. Unhappy himself, he seeks to make others wretched. Sordid and heartless, he sneers at enthusiasm and generosity. Weary of life, he thinks life holds no joy. 

And so, unless Saturn be dignified nobly – the best of all his dignities is illumination by the Sun – he represents malefic force. Cold, hostile, merciless, bitterly calculating life in terms of his own disaster, he blights all that he gazes on. He is the curse of disappointment, not of anger. He freezes the water-springs; he is the dry-rot and the death of the ungodly. He looks upon the Sun, despairs; in cynic bitterness his draught is brewed, and he drinks it, wishing it were poison. His breath withers up love; his word is malediction. {404} 

Happy are we, if we escape his fatal influence! But in each one of us this principle exists; it is the most unescapable of all our fates. On us, on our wisdom and our vitality, the burden lies, how we will live so that our old age may be beautiful. There is no token of the triumph of life like a noble close to it; no proof of our salvation like the love born us by the young when we have hailed the bark of Charon from afar. Let us see to it that our age 

“Is as lusty winter, 

Frosty but kindly.” 

“Be humble, if thou wouldst obtain wisdom 

Be humbler still, when wisdom thou hast gained.”

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