Friday, July 08, 2005

Today's Word: Saturnine

Saturnine...say it out loud! It sounds pretty!

But it's not!

No, saturnine is not a pretty word at all. The wonderful and impressive thing about words is that they cover all the bases. We have words for everything - not just the good stuff. In fact, the words that define the bad things of life may be equally important. By giving those things substance, words allow us to handle and control them. Words give us power!

Saturnine is a mood of sullen melancholy. It's not depression or anger. It's less vibrant than either. It lacks the passion of despair or fury. It hangs dull and suffocating around your shoulders.

The particular bland and dour countenance is associated with lead poisoning. Lead being what ancient Romans believed the planet Saturn was made from.

What is startling about this word is that the Roman god Saturn was not a sad fellow! No! In fact, it was Saturn (according to Roman mythology) who taught man to till the soil and to harvest crops! It was Saturn who was celebrated by the Romans with a week-long festival in late December - a celebration of life and merriment that is believed by many to be the inspiration for the timing of the modern Christmas celebration!

(Christians take note, it is common knowledge and well documented that the actual calendar dates of Christian celebrations were deliberately placed to coincide with holidays of other religions - Easter, for example, was paired with an ancient Pagan fertility holiday. This was an effort by the early Church to help converts feel comfortable with their new faith. Don't take this news as disparaging, no! It's simply history, and that's ok. The more you know about your religion -whatever you believe in, the more confident and full your faith will be. Our current calendar is much different than the calendar of 2,000 years ago. In fact, Roman Emporers added the months July and August in honor of Julius and Augustus Caesar.)

Lead, that dense and malleable mineral...lead has poisoned the meaning of Saturnine in the same way that it can poison a person. Don't eat paint!

Do you catch yourself slipping into a saturnine disposition every now and then? I do! But I beat it back by going outside and paying homage to the Roman ideal of Saturnian celebration...I revel in the bounty of the sun and the wonder of the wild and exhilarating splendor of nature.



Blogger Mojo said...

"Don't eat paint!"

Cracked me up.

4:46 PM  
Blogger Agent Em said...

It's good advice, Mojo. Don't eat paint! And don't let kids eat paint either!

5:42 PM  

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