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Saturn as the Sun of night (1)

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01 Religious and ideological doctrines and imagery

01 Religious and ideological doctrines and imagery

4th century BCE
1st century BCE
Greek Classical Age
Roman Empire
Greek philosophers and scholars
Helleno-Roman philosophers and scholars

To Babylonian astrologers Saturn is the “planet of the Sun”, he is the “Sun of the night,” that is to say, according to a system of subsistutions, of which there are many examples, Saturn could take in astrological combinations the place of the star of day when the latter had disappeared. Diodorus Siculus was well aware of this fact (2.30.3), and in the Epinomis of Plato, there is an allusion to this peculiar doctrine. In the enumeration of the planets which is there made it is stated that the slowest of them all bears according to some people the name of Helios. Moreover, the fact that the writer was aquainted with oriental theories comes out no less clearly from certain expressions of which he makes use in this passage, than from the very object which he has in view. He dreamed of a reconciliation between the cult of Apollo of Delphi, and that of the sidereal gods which the piety of Syria and Egypt had taught to the Greeks. This typical detail reveals what the author’s astronomical learning owes to the Chaldeans.

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Diodorus Siculus 2.20.3
Plato, Epinomis


Cumont 1912, 48-49Cumont, Franz. Astrology and Religion among the Greeks and Romans. American Lectures on the History of Religions 8. New York, London: G. P. Putnam's Sons 1912.

Amar Annus

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