He is basically a God of Sowing Seeds who made good. SATURNUS started out as an old Italian deity in charge of agriculture and time. He looked after the crops and assisted with the growing cycle throughout the year. He had a nice little feast day in the middle of December to tide everyone over until the Spring, and that was that.
But as Greek culture spread its influence over Roman thought, SATURNUS was gradually equated with CRONUS the Titan. It was no use denying it. Those excitable Romans could not take no for an answer. So simple SATURNUS began to take on the attributes of CRONUS the Greek superpower. He just couldn’t help it.
One of these attributes was the nasty habit of eating his own children. SATURNUS — presumably having read up on the Greek Myths — was terrified that his kids would overthrow him. He therefore began to devour them, although not without some reluctance and guilt.
Needless to say, one child was hidden from the gaping maw of his dad and survived. Little JUPITER did indeed become the Master of the Universe instead of his father.
But SATURNUS was not overthrown; he was given a pardon in appreciation for his tireless work running the world and organizing the crops in the idyllic Golden Age before the Greeks came along to mess it all up.
Being Roman, it was any excuse for a festival and his Saturnalia Carnival came to dominate the calendar. This festival celebrated the Winter Solstice and all the normal rules of life were turned upside-down for a week. Bosses and slaves changed places, rudeness and lewdness were encouraged, and much fun was had by everybody.
It’s nice to be able to report a happy ending. And the fun still goes on. As all pagans know, the climax of Saturnalian feasting and pleasure is December 25th. Never mind SANTA-CLAUS — it’s SATURNUS who should be the God of Christmas Parties. Just call him Saturnus Claus.