I’ve always heard that Kronus (Titan of the Harvest) and Chronos (God/Personification of Time) are often confused by modern people but were actually considered two distinct beings in Ancient Greece. Multiple answers on this very site mention this point.

However, the Wikipedia article about Kronus lists many prominent ancient authors (Cicero, Plutarch, etc) who also considered him to be associated with time:

During antiquity, Cronus was occasionally interpreted as Chronos, the personification of time. The Roman philosopher Cicero (1st century BCE) elaborated on this by saying that the Greek name Cronus is synonymous to chronos (time) since he maintains the course and cycles of seasons and the periods of time, whereas the Latin name Saturn denotes that he is saturated with years since he was devouring his sons, which implies that time devours the ages and gorges.

The Greek historian and biographer Plutarch (1st century CE) asserted that the Greeks believed that Cronus was an allegorical name for χρόνος (time). […] Proclus (5th century CE), the Neoplatonist philosopher, makes in his Commentary on Plato's Cratylus an extensive analysis on Cronus; among others he says that the "One cause" of all things is "Chronos" (time) that is also equivocal to Cronus.

Indeed, the article indicates that writers from multiple eras considered them to be the same, from Greek (Plutarch, above) to Roman (His association with the "Saturnian" Golden Age eventually caused him to become the god of "time") to the Renaissance (…the identification of Cronus and Chronos gave rise to "Father Time" wielding the harvesting scythe).

What that article does not mention is any counter-arguments from ancient sources: it doesn’t provide any specific sources that describe them explicitly as two distinct deities.

So if a bunch of Greeks considered Kronus and Chronos to be the same being, and the Romans did too, and the people of the Renaissance did too… who didn’t? Is there some other document that specifically delineates them as being separate? It can’t just be the slight difference in spelling, right, not with so many ancient sources specifically saying they were the same? If spelling was more important than direct sources, we’d be treating Genghis Khan and Chinggis Kan as two different people.

So where did this idea that Kronus the Titan is explicitly NOT associated with time come from?

EDIT: I found one comment online that indicated that the Orphic Greeks were the ones who insisted that they were two different beings, while “mainstream” Greeks treated them as one, but again it didn’t provide any specific sources.

  • My understanding is that they are indeed cognate, the distinction of K and X is not great enough in regard to how language develops, where similar sounds have different particulars across cultural groups—phonemes are a factor in dialects, not just distinct languages. It all comes down to the sickle, initially used to castrate Ouranos, and subsequently for harvest. Agriculture—when to plant, when to harvest—makes tracking of time of critical importance for early cultures, and is the basis of ancient astronomy.
    – DukeZhou
    Commented Jun 20, 2021 at 1:09

2 Answers 2


The question is: "Which specific ancient sources did NOT consider Kronus and Chronos to be the same being?"

As a Greek who has been taught Ancient Greek, i can assure you that modern Greek are not the same thing, ancient ones are like a foreign language to most of us. But let's go to the point. Some things remain the same or similar.

Kronus = ΚΡΟΝΟΣ = the planet (and obviously the father of Zeus)

Chronus = ΧΡΟΝΟΣ = time.

we say ΧΙΜΑΙΡΑ (Chimera) X sounds like "He" in Greek, that's why in English they use Ch instead of K. K sounds the same.

As you can see there is only one difference. The fist letter. And it is unfortunate, that they sound somewhat the same.

Copy paste ΚΡΟΝΟΣ ΧΡΟΝΟΣ in google translate in greek and press voice button to hear them. If you see gibberish instead of greek letters, encode your browser to UTF-8.

So the most reliable source that define ΚΡΟΝΟΣ and ΧΡΟΝΟΣ as two different things, is... well... the Greek language itself.


ORPHIC THEOGONY is the source that refer ΧΡΟΝΟΣ as an entity older than the Titans. (Orphic Rhapsodies, Ieronymos and Ellanikos) The source of this information is a diplomatic Thesis ΧΡΟΝΟΣ gave birth to the Cosmic Egg along with ΑΝΑΓΚΗ. Cosmic egg created the Universe when it broke. ΧΡΟΝΟΣ is a Generator, one that gave birth to many things. Kronos, is a Titan, too inferior and younger entity than Chronos. So there you go. They are different entities.

Source is in Greek, I am sorry about that, but it is a part of the Scientific Community so it is a valid Thesis. https://nemertes.lis.upatras.gr/jspui/bitstream/10889/4849/1/Nimertis_Ktena(lit).pdf

Also one of the horses that was moving Sun's Chariot was named also Chronos. But you should focus on the older entity that created and broke the Cosmic Egg.

Another source is a dictionary: Source is a mythological dictionary: Emmy Patsi-Garin: Επίτομο λεξικό Ελληνικής Μυθολογίας, Publisher: «Χάρη Πάτση», Athens 1969, page. 705

  • 1
    That's an argument I've never understood, could you explain further? Why does it matter that the words are different? "Ares" isn't spelled the same as "war." "Poseidon" isn't spelled the same as "ocean." "Athena" isn't spelled the same as "wisdom." So why would "Kronus" not being spelled the same as "time" have any bearing on whether he was associated with time? (To be clear: I'm not saying they WERE the same, I just don't understand why the spelling of his name is relevant to his sphere of influence. It seems equivalent to saying "John can't work at bank, because he has an H in his name.")
    – Nerrolken
    Commented May 26, 2021 at 16:56
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    All right. I now understand what you mean. You were meaning Chronos the entity. Chronos in Greek is literally time. Literally. Now there is Chronos, who among with ΑΝΑΓΚΗ (it is spelled like anage but put it on google translate for better result) ( it means need, or necessity) were two entities in the form of monsters. Chronos had three heads, one of a man one of a taurus and one of a lion. and it had the body of a snake. Among with ΑΝΑΓΚΗ they were older entities than the Titans. ΚΡΟΝΟΣ (Kronos) was a Titan. So there you go. Don't hesitate to ask anything else you need on the topic.
    – George Eco
    Commented May 27, 2021 at 7:32
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    Source is a mythological lexicon: Emmy Patsi-Garin: Επίτομο λεξικό Ελληνικής Μυθολογίας, Publisher: «Χάρη Πάτση», Athens 1969, page. 705 I am not at home but I will look for it on another lexicon asap to include a second source.
    – George Eco
    Commented May 27, 2021 at 7:36
  • Edited my answer, added some sources.
    – George Eco
    Commented May 27, 2021 at 7:54
  • 1
    @George Eco, thank you for the extra info, that is very helpful! :)
    – Nerrolken
    Commented May 27, 2021 at 21:43

Plutarch and Cicero were writing several hundred years after the earliest Greek poetry describing Cronus and Chronus. You can't really use what authors so late thought to argue what earlier authors thought.

The question is also a little backwards. If Chronus and Cronus were later inflations, how could anyone before possibly have said that they were different? You can only deny an idea once the idea has come into existence.

So what can you do to tell? The answer is to find the texts in which χρόνος (khronos) and κρόνος (kronos) both appear yet aren't interachangeable. You'll see both words in Homer and Hesiod, and yet neither ever call the father of Zeus khronos. When we see khronos in Homer and Hesiod, it always refers to time.

In the Theogony, Hesiod describes the becoming of Cronus and his consumption of his children, but Hesiod never calls Kronus khronos and never says that he has anything to do with time. Moreover, the one time Hesiod uses khronos, it is in reference to actual time:

ὣς φέρετ᾽ ἂμ πέλαγος πουλὺν χρόνον (190)
"they were swept away over the main for a long time"

Moreover, if you look at the Theoi page about Kronos, despite their editorializing, you do not get a clear connection between the two until Cicero. (Their understanding of that Pindar passage is shaky at best.)

Your analogy of Ghenghis/Chinggis Khan is also off the mark. That name is a transliteration into English (and other languages) of a foreign name. It's a real person with a name in a tongue that is not their own. Meanwhile, khronos is a normal Greek word. There is no transliteration going on.


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