Thursday, 25 February 2010

Althaea rosea ante aedem sacram Saturni

Do you know the hollyhock? The hollyhock was one of my mother's favourite flowers and is one of the species we both loved most, as either lilac, columbines and peonies. Once we planted together a staghorn sumac because of the wonderful coulors in autumn. As she has left me years ago, now it is wonderful to see a hollyhock in front of Saturn's temple. Saturn was one of the eldest gods of the latin people, and before the Capitol hill in Rome started to be called Capitol, it had been called Mons Saturnius, and, as still today, at the feet of this hill there was the Ara Saturni (whose remains are visible in front of the remaining columns of the temple) and later on the Aedes Saturni, the temple of Saturn, first as a wooden building and centuries later as a stone building and at Augustus' time as a marble building. The remains we can see today are from the end of the 3rd century after Christ.

Saturn was an old god of seeds and crops, fertility and satiety. Words like "seed", "satiety" and "satisfy" are still reminding to him. In the Golden Age the people of Latium were even ruled by this god, because then he was their king. His son Dis (or Pluto) was the god of the "underground". Pluto is not Plutus. Plutus is the god of wealth, while Pluto is the god of the underworld. But there is a link. Both gods receive their name from the greek word for wealth "ploutos", and the most precious matter (from "mater" terra) is lying in the underworld as ore, and furthermore material wealth very easily leads to conjunctions with obscure entities.

We therefore can say that Saturn is the god of healthy, alive richness under the sun and over the earth, while his son Pluto is a god who has to do with the richness under the earth. And the "aerarium", the treasury, where all the "aes" and "aera" under Pluto's or Plutus' responsability is lying, was in deed under the Aedes Saturni, in the cellar.

The meaning of "althaea" is "healing"

In honor of Saturn were celebrated every year in december the Saturnalia which later became our Christmas and our carnival. I have always supposed that these two celebrations take place in winter, because in winter we all need some colour. And so man has invented his own colours when nature withdraws its colours.