Divine cannibalism

This picture is “Saturn devouring his son” by Peter Paul Rubens, painted in 1636.

01 saturn-devouring-his-son-1636-oil-on-canvas-peter-paul-rubens

The Greek myth tells of Chronos, who in Roman mythology became Saturn. He learned that one of his children would overthrow him, so he ate each one as they were born. His wife hid Zeus, who of course did eventually overthrow Chronos to become king of the gods, and she replaced him with a stone. This painting presumably represents one of the less stoned siblings.


Almost 200 years later, in his Black Paintings, Francisco Goya shows the same divine cannibal god as nightmare and psychopath, and the victim as a bleeding, barely recognisable figure, neither human or god, but clearly animal in content. There is evidence that, in the original version, Goya gave Saturn a partially erect phallus, implying that cannibalism is, at least in the divine realm, apparently something of an aphrodisiac.

Good to know even gods can be cannibals.

One thought on “Divine cannibalism

  1. Hey! This is my first comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and tell you I truly enjoy reading your articles. Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that go over the same topics? Thanks a lot!


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