The Romans identified Saturn with the Greek Cronus, whose myths were adapted for Latin literature and Roman art. In particular, Cronus’s role in the genealogy of the Greek gods was transferred to Saturn. As early as Livius Andronicus (3rd century BC), Jupiter (Zeus) was called the son of Saturn. Cronus was also identified in classical antiquity with the Roman deity Saturn.
Cronus, or both Cronos and Kronos, was in Greek mythology the leader and the youngest of the first generation of Titans, the divine descendants of Uranus, the sky and Gaia, the earth. He overthrew his father and ruled during the mythological Golden Age, until he was overthrown by his own son Zeus and imprisoned in Tartarus.
Cronus was usually depicted with a Harpe, Scythe or a Sickle, which was the instrument he used to castrate and depose Uranus, his father. In Athens, on the twelfth day of the Attic month of Hekatombaion, a festival called Kronia was held in honour of Cronus to celebrate the harvest, suggesting that, as a result of his association with the virtuous Golden Age, Cronus continued to preside as a patron of harvest.
A theory debated in the 19th century, and sometimes still offered somewhat apologetically, holds that Kronos is related to “horned”, assuming a Semitic derivation from qrn. Andrew Lang’s objection, that Cronus was never represented horned in Hellenic art, was addressed by Robert Brown, arguing that in Semitic usage, as in the Hebrew Bible qeren was a signifier of “power”. When Greek writers encountered the Levantine deity El, they rendered his name as Kronos.
Robert Graves proposed that cronos meant “crow”, related to the Ancient Greek word corōnē (κορώνη) “crow”, noting that Cronus was depicted with a crow, as were the deities Apollo, Asclepius, Saturn and Bran.
The beginning of time
When Hellenes encountered Phoenicians and, later, Hebrews, they identified the Semitic El, by interpretatio graeca, with Cronus. The association was recorded c. AD 100 by Philo of Byblos’ Phoenician history, as reported in Eusebius’ Præparatio Evangelica I.10.16.
Philo’s account, ascribed by Eusebius to the semi-legendary pre-Trojan War Phoenician historian Sanchuniathon, indicates that Cronus was originally a Canaanite ruler who founded Byblos and was subsequently deified.
This version gives his alternate name as Elus or Ilus, and states that in the 32nd year of his reign, he emasculated, slew and deified his father Epigeius or Autochthon “whom they afterwards called Uranus”. It further states that after ships were invented, Cronus, visiting the ‘inhabitable world’, bequeathed Attica to his own daughter Athena and Egypt to Taautus the son of Misor and inventor of writing.
While the Greeks considered Cronus a cruel and tempestuous force of chaos and disorder, believing the Olympian gods had brought an era of peace and order by seizing power from the crude and malicious Titans, the Romans took a more positive and innocuous view of the deity, by conflating their indigenous deity Saturn with Cronus.
Consequently, while the Greeks considered Cronus merely an intermediary stage between Uranus and Zeus, he was a larger aspect of Roman religion. The Saturnalia was a festival dedicated in his honour, and at least one temple to Saturn already existed in the archaic Roman Kingdom.
His association with the “Saturnian” Golden Age eventually caused him to become the god of “time”, i.e., calendars, seasons, and harvests—not now confused with Chronos, the unrelated embodiment of time in general; nevertheless, among Hellenistic scholars in Alexandria and during the Renaissance, Cronus was conflated with the name of Chronos, the personification of “Father Time”, wielding the harvesting scythe.
As a result of Cronus’ importance to the Romans, his Roman variant, Saturn, has had a large influence on Western culture. The seventh day of the Judaeo-Christian week is called in Latin Dies Saturni (“Day of Saturn”), which in turn was adapted and became the source of the English word Saturday. In astronomy, the planet Saturn is named after the Roman deity. It is the outermost of the Classical planets (those that are visible with the naked eye).
The myth of Cronus castrating Uranus parallels the Song of Kumarbi, where Anu (the heavens) is castrated by Kumarbi. In the Song of Ullikummi, Teshub uses the “sickle with which heaven and earth had once been separated” to defeat the monster Ullikummi, establishing that the “castration” of the heavens by means of a sickle was part of a creation myth, in origin a cut creating an opening or gap between heaven (imagined as a dome of stone) and earth enabling the beginning of time (Chronos) and human history.
Recently, Janda (2010) offers a genuinely Indo-European etymology of “the cutter”, from the root *(s)ker- “to cut” (Greek keirō), c.f. English shear), motivated by Cronus’ characteristic act of “cutting the sky” (or the genitals of anthropomorphic Uranus).
The Indo-Iranian reflex of the root is kar, generally meaning “to make, create” (whence karma), but Janda argues that the original meaning “to cut” in a cosmogonic sense is still preserved in some verses of the Rigveda pertaining to Indra’s heroic “cutting”, like that of Cronus resulting in creation:
In RV 10.104.10: ārdayad vṛtram akṛṇod ulokaṃ – “he hit Vrtra fatally, cutting [> creating] a free path” and in RV 6.47.4: varṣmāṇaṃ divo akṛṇod – “he cut [> created] the loftiness of the sky.”
This may point to an older Indo-European mytheme reconstructed as *(s)kert wersmn diwos “by means of a cut he created the loftiness of the sky”.
During antiquity, Cronus was occasionally interpreted as Chronos, the personification of time; according to Plutarch the Greeks believed that Cronus was an allegorical name for Chronos.
In addition to the name, the story of Cronus eating his children was also interpreted as an allegory to a specific aspect of time held within Cronus’ sphere of influence. As the theory went, Cronus represented the destructive ravages of time which consumed all things, a concept that was definitely illustrated when the Titan king devoured the Olympian gods — the past consuming the future, the older generation suppressing the next generation. During the Renaissance, the identification of Cronus and Chronos gave rise to “Father Time” wielding the harvesting scythe.
Saturn the planet is named after the god Saturn (Latin: Saturnus), a god in ancient Roman religion, and a character in myth. Saturn is a complex figure because of his multiple associations and long history.
According to Varro, Saturn’s name was derived from satu, “sowing.” Even though this etymology looks implausible on linguistic grounds (for the long quantity of the a in Sāturnus and also because of the epigraphically attested form Saeturnus) nevertheless it does reflect an original feature of the god.
A more probable etymology connects the name with Etruscan god Satre and placenames such as Satria, an ancient town of Latium, and Saturae palus, a marsh also in Latium. This root may be related to Latin phytonym satureia.
Another epithet of his that referred to his agricultural functions was Sterculius or Stercutus, Sterces from stercus, “manure.” Agriculture was important to Roman identity, and Saturn was a part of archaic Roman religion and ethnic identity. His name appears in the ancient hymn of the Salian priests, and his temple was the oldest known to have been recorded by the pontiffs.
The exact meaning of Enki’s name is uncertain: the common translation is “Lord of the Earth”: the Sumerian en is translated as a title equivalent to “lord”; it was originally a title given to the High Priest; ki means “earth”; but there are theories that ki in this name has another origin, possibly kig of unknown meaning, or kur meaning “mound”.
He was the first god of the Capitol, known since the most ancient times as Saturnius Mons, and was seen as a god of generation, dissolution, plenty, wealth, agriculture, periodic renewal and liberation. Under Saturn’s rule, humans enjoyed the spontaneous bounty of the earth without labor in the “Golden Age” described by Hesiod and Ovid.
In later developments he came to be also a god of time. His reign was depicted as a Golden Age of plenty and peace. Macrobius states explicitly that the Roman legend of Janus and Saturn is an affabulation, as the true meaning of religious beliefs cannot be openly expressed.
In the myth Saturn was the original and autochthonous ruler of the Capitolium, which had thus been called the Mons Saturnius in older times and on which once stood the town of Saturnia. He was sometimes regarded as the first king of Latium or even the whole of Italy.
At the same time, there was a tradition that Saturn had been an immigrant god, received by Janus after he was usurped by his son Jupiter and expelled from Greece. In Versnel’s view his contradictions – a foreigner with one of Rome’s oldest sanctuaries, and a god of liberation who is kept in fetters most of the year – indicate Saturn’s capacity for obliterating social distinctions.
The Golden Age of Saturn’s reign in Roman mythology differed from the Greek tradition. He arrived in Italy “dethroned and fugitive,” but brought agriculture and civilization for which things was rewarded by Janus with a share of the kingdom, becoming he himself king.
Saturn is associated with a major religious festival in the Roman calendar, Saturnalia. Saturnalia celebrated the harvest and sowing, and ran from December 17–23. Macrobius (5th century AD) presents an interpretation of the Saturnalia as a festival of light leading to the winter solstice.
The renewal of light and the coming of the New Year is celebrated in the later Roman Empire at the Dies Natalis of Sol Invictus, the “Birthday of the Unconquerable Sun,” on December 25.
The Winter solstice was thought to occur on December 25. January 1 was New Year day: the day was consecrated to Janus since it was the first of the New Year and of the month (kalends) of Janus: the feria had an augural character as Romans believed the beginning of anything was an omen for the whole.
Thus on that day it was customary to exchange cheerful words of good wishes. For the same reason everybody devoted a short time to his usual business, exchanged dates, figs and honey as a token of well wishing and made gifts of coins called strenae. Cakes made of spelt (far) and salt were offered to the god and burnt on the altar.
Ovid states that in most ancient times there were no animal sacrifices and gods were propitiated with offerings of spelt and pure salt. This libum was named ianual and it was probably correspondent to the summanal offered the day before the Summer solstice to god Summanus, which however was sweet being made with flour, honey and milk. Shortly afterwards, on January 9, on the feria of the Agonium of January the rex sacrorum offered the sacrifice of a ram to Janus.
Saturn had two consorts who represented different aspects of the god. The name of his wife Ops, the Roman equivalent of Greek Rhea, means “wealth, abundance, resources.” The association with Ops though is considered a later development, as this goddess was originally paired with Consus. Earlier was Saturn’s association with Lua (“destruction, dissolution, loosening”), a goddess who received the bloodied weapons of enemies destroyed in war.
In ancient Roman religion and myth, Janus (Latin: Ianus) is the god of beginnings and transitions, and thereby of gates, doors, doorways, passages and endings. He is usually depicted as having two faces, since he looks to the future and to the past. The Romans named the month of January (Ianuarius) in his honor.
Janus presided over the beginning and ending of conflict, and hence war and peace. The doors of his temple were open in time of war, and closed to mark the peace. As a god of transitions, he had functions pertaining to birth and to journeys and exchange, and in his association with Portunus, a similar harbor and gateway god, he was concerned with travelling, trading and shipping.
Janus had no flamen or specialized priest (sacerdos) assigned to him, but the King of the Sacred Rites (rex sacrorum) himself carried out his ceremonies. Janus had a ubiquitous presence in religious ceremonies throughout the year, and was ritually invoked at the beginning of each one, regardless of the main deity honored on any particular occasion.
The interpretation of Janus as the god of beginnings and transitions is based on a third etymology indicated by Cicero, Ovid and Macrobius, which explains the name as Latin, deriving it from the verb ire (“to go”). From Ianus derived ianua (“door”), and hence the English word “janitor” (Latin, ianitor).
Janus and Juno
The relationship between Janus and Juno, the protector and special counselor of the state, is defined by the closeness of the notions of beginning and transition and the functions of conception and delivery, result of youth and vital force. Ancient etymologies associated Juno’s name with iuvare, “to aid, benefit”, and iuvenescendo, “rejuvenate”.
Juno is a daughter of Saturn and sister (but also the wife) of the chief god Jupiter and the mother of Mars and Vulcan. Juno also looked after the women of Rome. Her Greek equivalent was Hera, the wife and one of three sisters of Zeus, the goddess of women and marriage. Hera’s mother is Rhea and her father Cronus.
The cow, lion and the peacock were considered sacred to her. In Greco-Roman mythology the Peacock is identified with Hera (Juno) who created the Peacock from Argus whose hundred eyes (seen on the tail feathers of the Peacock) symbolize the vault of heaven and the “eyes” of the stars.
Juno’s own warlike aspect among the Romans is apparent in her attire. She often appeared sitting pictured with a peacock armed and wearing a goatskin cloak. The traditional depiction of this warlike aspect was assimilated from the Greek goddess Hera, whose goatskin was called the ‘aegis’.
Her Etruscan counterpart was Uni, the supreme goddess of the Etruscan pantheon and the patron goddess of Perugia. In the Etruscan tradition, it is Uni who grants access to immortality to the demigod Hercle (Greek Heracles, Latin Hercules) by offering her breast milk to him.
Uni appears in the Etruscan text on the Pyrgi Tablets as the translation of the Phoenician goddess Astarte. Livy states (Book V, Ab Urbe Condita) that Juno was an Etruscan goddess of the Veientes, who was ceremonially adopted into the Roman pantheon when Veii was sacked in 396BC. This seems to refer to Uni. She also appears on the Liver of Piacenza.
As the patron goddess of Rome and the Roman Empire, Juno was called Regina (“Queen”) and, together with Jupiter and Minerva, was worshipped as a triad on the Capitol (Juno Capitolina) in Rome.
Portunes (alternatively spelled Portumnes or Portunus) may be defined as a sort of duplication inside the scope of the powers and attributes of Janus. His original definition shows he was the god of gates and doors and of harbours, a god of keys, doors and livestock. He protected the warehouses where grain was stored. Probably because of folk associations between porta “gate, door” and portus “harbor”, the “gateway” to the sea, Portunus later became conflated with Palaemon and evolved into a god primarily of ports and harbors.
In the Latin adjective importunus his name was applied to untimely waves and weather and contrary winds, and the Latin echoes in English opportune and its old-fashioned antonym importune, meaning “well timed’ and “badly timed”. Hence Portunus is behind both an opportunity and importunate or badly timed solicitations.
Portunus appears to be closely related to the god Janus, with whom he shares many characters, functions and the symbol of the key. He too was represented as a two headed being, with each head facing opposite directions, on coins and as figurehead of ships. He was considered to be “deus portuum portarumque praeses” (lit. God presiding over ports and gates.)
The relationship between the two gods is underlined by the fact that the date chosen for the dedication of the rebuilt temple of Janus in the Forum Holitorium by emperor Tiberius is the day of the Portunalia, August 17.
Linguist Giuliano Bonfante has speculated, on the grounds of his cult and of the meaning of his name, that he should be a very archaic deity and might date back to an era when Latins lived in dwellings built on pilings. He argues that in Latin the words porta (door, gate) and portus (harbour, port) share their etymology from the same IE root meaning ford, wading point.
Janus and Vesta
The relationship between Janus and Vesta, the virgin goddess of the hearth, home, and family in Roman religion, touches on the question of the nature and function of the gods of beginning and ending in Indo-European religion. While Janus has the first place Vesta has the last, both in theology and in ritual (Ianus primus, Vesta extrema).
Vesta is the goddess of the hearth of the city of Rome. Vesta’s presence is symbolized by the sacred fire that burned at her hearth and temples. Her closest Greek equivalent is Hestia (Ancient Greek: Ἑστία, “hearth” or “fireside”), a virgin goddess of the hearth, ancient Greek architecture, and the right ordering of domesticity, the family, and the state. In Greek mythology she is a daughter of Cronus and Rhea.
Hestia received the first offering at every sacrifice in the household. In the public domain, the hearth of the prytaneum functioned as her official sanctuary. With the establishment of a new colony, flame from Hestia’s public hearth in the mother city would be carried to the new settlement. She sat on a plain wooden throne with a white woolen cushion and did not trouble to choose an emblem for herself. Her Roman equivalent is Vesta.
Dumézil surmised that the name of the goddess derives from Indoeuropean root *h₁eu-, via the derivative form *h₁eu-s- which alternates with *h₁w-es-. The former is found in Greek εὕειν heuein, Latin urit, ustio and Vedic osathi all conveying ‘burning’ and the second is found in Vesta, Greek Ἑστία Hestia. See also Gallic Celtic visc “fire.”
Dumézil hints to the significance of fire as the origin and bearer of life in connection to Vesta. Its talismanic value was the reason that caused the accumulation of signa fatalia or pignora harboured in the innermost part of the penus. Servius gives a list of seven, three of which from Troy. The earliest collection was limited and kept secret, though according to Pliny the function of fertility was represented by the image of a male sex organ.
Ancient Romans as well as other Indoeuropean peoples believed the Earth is a sphere. Every temple though had to have two fires of which one was a hearth (Latin focus), representing the fire (Latin foculus) of Vesta as the Hearth of the city, and the main was the sacrificial ara.
He draws a comparison between Roman religious conceptions and rituals and the relevant aspects of Vedic religion. The correspondence of Vesta with Vedic god Agni, the god of fire and the acceptor of sacrifices, was noted long ago. In the Indian epic poem Mahabharata the episodes of Karttikeya, god of war and son of Agni and of Agni and the daughters of Nila bear the same theme of the flames as the sex organ of the god.
The fecundating power of sacred fire is testified in Latin mythology in one version of the birth of Romulus, that of the birth of king Servius Tullius (in which his mother Ocresia becomes pregnant after sitting upon a phallus that appeared among the ashes of the ara of god Vulcanus, by order of Tanaquil wife of king Tarquinius Priscus) and that of the birth of Caeculus, the founder of Praeneste.
All these mythical or semilegendary characters show a mystical mastership of fire. E.g. Servius’s hair was kindled by his father without hurting him, his statue in the temple of Fortuna Primigenia was unharmed by fire after his assassination. Caeculus kindled and extinguished fires at will.
In Vedic India the same complex appears as a quality of the divine twins, the Nasatya: they allowed a hero to survive in a basin of fire into which he had been thrown and enjoy the bathing as pleasant.
A much later episode of Roman history has been detected as a revised replication of the same early mythologem. In the fire of the temple of Vesta of the year 241 BC Lucius Caecilius Metellus, and at the time Pontifex Maximus, saved the palladium, to which men were not allowed, and according to tradition was blinded in the incident.
Modern scholars have speculated that it would be impossible to cover offices as pontifex and consul for a blind man for more than twenty years. It has been suggested that this episode should be interpreted in the light of the connexion of the gens Caecilia with Caeculus, the founder of Praeneste.
The use of the story of this incident is paradigmatic of how archaic mythologems common to Indo European heritage were reused over time grafted onto history.
Zeus is the “Father of Gods and men” who rules the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father rules the family according to the ancient Greek religion. He is the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. Zeus is etymologically cognate with and, under Hellenic influence, became particularly closely identified with Roman Jupiter.
Zeus is the Greek continuation of *Di̯ēus, the name of the Proto-Indo-European god of the daytime sky, also called *Dyeus ph2tēr (“Sky Father”). The god is known under this name in the Rigveda (Vedic Sanskrit Dyaus/Dyaus Pita), Latin (compare Jupiter, from Iuppiter, deriving from the Proto-Indo-European vocative *dyeu-ph2tēr), deriving from the root *dyeu- (“to shine”, and in its many derivatives, “sky, heaven, god”).
Zeus is the only deity in the Olympic pantheon whose name has such a transparent Indo-European etymology. The earliest attested forms of the name are the Mycenaean Greek di-we and di-wo, written in the Linear B syllabic script.
Zeus is the child of Cronus and Rhea, and the youngest of his siblings. In most traditions he is married to Hera, although, at the oracle of Dodona, his consort is Dione: according to the Iliad, he is the father of Aphrodite by Dione.
He is known for his erotic escapades. These resulted in many godly and heroic offspring, including Athena, Apollo and Artemis, Hermes, Persephone (by Demeter), Dionysus, Perseus, Heracles, Helen of Troy, Minos, and the Muses (by Mnemosyne); by Hera, he is usually said to have fathered Ares, Hebe and Hephaestus.
As Walter Burkert points out in his book, Greek Religion, “Even the gods who are not his natural children address him as Father, and all the gods rise in his presence.” For the Greeks, he was the King of the Gods, who oversaw the universe.
As Pausanias observed, “That Zeus is king in heaven is a saying common to all men”. In Hesiod’s Theogony Zeus assigns the various gods their roles. In the Homeric Hymns he is referred to as the chieftain of the gods.
His symbols are the thunderbolt, eagle, bull, and oak. In addition to his Indo-European inheritance, the classical “cloud-gatherer” (Greek: Nephelēgereta) also derives certain iconographic traits from the cultures of the Ancient Near East, such as the scepter. Zeus is frequently depicted by Greek artists in one of two poses: standing, striding forward, with a thunderbolt leveled in his raised right hand, or seated in majesty.
Jupiter (Latin: Iuppiter; genitive case: Iovis) or Jove is the king of the gods and the god of sky and thunder in myth. Jupiter was the chief deity of Roman state religion throughout the Republican and Imperial eras, until Christianity became the dominant religion of the Empire. In Roman mythology, he negotiates with Numa Pompilius, the second king of Rome, to establish principles of Roman religion such as sacrifice.
Jupiter is usually thought to have originated as a sky god. His identifying implement is the thunderbolt, and his primary sacred animal is the eagle, which held precedence over other birds in the taking of auspices and became one of the most common symbols of the Roman army. The two emblems were often combined to represent the god in the form of an eagle holding in its claws a thunderbolt, frequently seen on Greek and Roman coins.
As the sky-god, he was a divine witness to oaths, the sacred trust on which justice and good government depend. Many of his functions were focused on the Capitoline (“Capitol Hill”), where the citadel was located. He was the chief deity of the early Capitoline Triad with Mars and Quirinus. In the later Capitoline Triad, he was the central guardian of the state with Juno and Minerva. His sacred tree was the oak.
The Romans regarded Jupiter as the equivalent of the Greek Zeus, and in Latin literature and Roman art, the myths and iconography of Zeus are adapted under the name Iuppiter. In the Greek-influenced tradition, Jupiter was the brother of Neptune and Pluto. Each presided over one of the three realms of the universe: sky, the waters, and the underworld. The Italic Diespiter was also a sky god who manifested himself in the daylight, usually but not always identified with Jupiter.
Tinia, the god of the sky and the highest god in Etruscan mythology, is usually regarded as his Etruscan counterpart. He was the husband of Thalna, a divine figure usually regarded as a goddess of childbirth, or Uni, the supreme goddess of the Etruscan pantheon and the patron goddess of Perugia, identified by the Etruscans as their equivalent of Juno in Roman mythology and Hera in Greek mythology, and the father of Hercle (Greek Heracles, Latin Hercules). In the Etruscan tradition, it is Uni who grants access to immortality to the demigod Hercle by offering her breast milk to him.
Tiw was equated with Mars (Latin: Mārs, Martis), in ancient Roman religion and myth the god of war and also an agricultural guardian, a combination characteristic of early Rome, in the interpretatio germanica. Tuesday is in fact “Tīw’s Day” (also in Alemannic Zischtig from zîes tag), translating dies Martis. He was second in importance only to Jupiter and Neptune and he was the most prominent of the military gods in the religion of the Roman army.
Most of his festivals were held in March, the month named for him (Latin Martius), and in October, which began the season for military campaigning and ended the season for farming.
Under the influence of Greek culture, Mars was identified with the Greek god Ares, whose myths were reinterpreted in Roman literature and art under the name of Mars. But the character and dignity of Mars differed in fundamental ways from that of his Greek counterpart, who is often treated with contempt and revulsion in Greek literature.
Ares is the Greek god of war. He is one of the Twelve Olympians, and the son of Zeus and Hera. In Greek literature, he often represents the physical or violent and untamed aspect of war, in contrast to the armored Athena, whose functions as a goddess of intelligence include military strategy and generalship.
Although Ares was viewed primarily as a destructive and destabilizing force, Mars represented military power as a way to secure peace, and was a father (pater) of the Roman people.
In the mythic genealogy and founding myths of Rome, Mars was the father of Romulus and Remus with Rhea Silvia. His love affair with Venus symbolically reconciled the two different traditions of Rome’s founding; Venus was the divine mother of the hero Aeneas, celebrated as the Trojan refugee who “founded” Rome several generations before Romulus laid out the city walls.
The importance of Mars in establishing religious and cultural identity within the Roman Empire is indicated by the vast number of inscriptions identifying him with a local deity, particularly in the Western provinces.
During the Hellenization of Latin literature, the myths of Ares were reinterpreted by Roman writers under the name of Mars. Greek writers under Roman rule also recorded cult practices and beliefs pertaining to Mars under the name of Ares. Thus in the classical tradition of later Western art and literature, the mythology of the two figures becomes virtually indistinguishable.
Not much is known about Pelasgian mythology. It appears the solar deity was originally Ares, in contrast the Titan Helios and the Olympian Apollo, better known in later Greece as sun gods. Traces of his worship are visible in Zeus Areios, who was honoured at Elis, and in the name of Areios Pagos (“Rock of Ares”) in Athens.
In The Greek Myths, Robert Graves describes the Pelasgian creation myth, which involves a singular creatrix goddess who dominates man and predates other deities. The goddess gives birth to all things, fertilised not by any male opposite but by symbolic seeds in the form of the wind, beans, or insects.