"Through flood and foul weather fruits shall fail, And so Saturn says and has sent to warn you: When you see the moon amiss and two monk's heads, And a maid have the mastery, and multiply by eight, Then shall Death withdraw and Dearth be justice, And Daw the diker die for hunger, Unless God of his goodness grants us a truce." (Langland, 6.325-331)
Saturn, the pagan god, is correlated with both time (Chronos or Kronos), and also associated with the time for Harvest. Harvest ends when winter comes, and it is the "end of time" for the plowing of crops.
Yet this pagan god, in turn, sparks the sin of sloth into those who harvest their crops. For a whole winter, plowmen are not able to work, and thus produces laziness in the workers. As a result, society lacks enough food to be eaten all winter.
The second connotation that Saturn corresponds with is the planet itself, and its role within both astrology and astronomy. In the Middle Ages, both astronomy and astrology were interchangeable. According to P.J. Heather, author of The Seven Planets, "Mars and Saturn are evil in their power; therefore men shun starting any work on Saturday and Tuesdays." (338) Since men in the Middle Ages tried to avoid starting work on a Saturday, the day of Saturn, this also led to sloth.
Although this idea of Saturn follows the beliefs of pagans, astronomy was one of the seven liberal arts that were taught during the Middle Ages. The seven arts consisted of a trivium and a quadrivum. While the trivium consisted of grammar, rhetoric and logic, the quadrivum consisted of arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy. Both the trivium and quadrivum make up the study of Theology in the Middle Ages. Each of the seven arts was taught as perceived from Scripture,... [continues]
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