The Greek God Cronos From Outer Range, Explained

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Outer Range, Amazon Prime Video’s high concept sci-fi western that (so far) includes 0 murderous robots, makes early theological allusions—much like its murderous robot predecessor. For Westworld, the allusions were Shakespearean; the park was a kind of redirected perdition, with its hosts proclaiming, after The Tempest, that hell is empty and “all the devils are here.”

Gods and devils appear also in Outer Range, though the allusions are Greek. In the opening scene, we find Royal Abbott (Josh Brolin) voicing over the episode’s defining moment, as he throws a lifeless body into a seemingly bottomless pit.

“You know anything about a Greek god called ‘Cronos?” he asks in monologue. “He carried a sickle. He used it to cut a hole, a tear in the cosmos between heaven and earth to separate this world from the next, to separate the known from the unknown. The world has been waiting for something like this.”

Later, a mysterious drifter repeats this quote almost verbatim, explaining how we get “time” from Chronos, another spelling—the prefix “chrono” meaning “time.”

But while her observation is etymological, Abbott’s monologue remains metaphysical, an explanation of world-splitting deity, which attempts—at least, thematically—to explain this giant hole in the middle of Abbott’s land: there is some sort of tear in space, and perhaps time.

Of course, the Chronos/Cronos allusion is a complicated one, due to the God’s confused history. (There are actually two of them.)

So far, it’s Outer Range’s most telling easter egg, and a potential clue for everything to come.

Who Is Chronos?

outer range chronos

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First, spelling. There’s “Chronos.” There’s “Cronus.” (Also, “Cronos” and “Kronus.”) Some of these names imply the same deity. Others do not.

“Chronos” is what pre-Socratic philosophers used to personify time. He’s depicted as an old man, sometimes wielding a scythe. (His name is indeed where we get “time” in English—“chronology,” for example.)

Chronos, however, has often been confused with “Cronus” (also “Cronos”) who is a Greek Titan and father of Zeus. Cronus was the son of Heaven and Earth and did use a sickle to separate these entities—though, he did so by castrating his father, Heaven, who was in perpetual coitus with his mother, Earth.

Cronus later fathered the Greek gods Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Hades, and Poseidon—all of whom he ate, as one does. Later he fathered Zeus, but he failed to eat him. Zeus later overthrew his Titan father, forced him to cough up all his siblings, and took over his reign of the Gods. Zeus became top boy.

Scholars seem to agree Cronus/Cronos (the Titan) and Chronos (the earlier personification of time), eventually merge in the literature of ancient Greece. He is often depicted with a sickle, his worship and festivals connected to the harvest. (Later, the Romans coopted these images and roles and turned Cronus/Chronos into the god Saturn.)

It’s all very confusing, but Cronus/Cronus/Chronos/Saturn is often personified as “Father Time” and akin to the changing of the seasons. The whole eating one’s children becomes likened to the passing of generations.

In the metaphysics of Outer Range, none of this information appears very helpful, as it seems the narrative wants to suggest the mysterious hole is a literal tear in space/time. When Abbott says Cronos’ cut is a separation of “this world from the next” he is conflating the Greek “Heaven” with the later Judeo-Christian heaven. Cronus separated Heaven and Earth, but these were not domains where people went. (There was no “next world” at this moment in the mythology. Nor people.)

The hole in Outer Range appears to be some sort of temporal portal connecting the living and the dead, which, if anything, is closer to Zeus’ brother, Hades, than their father, Cronus.

The point is that we probably shouldn’t read too much into the Greek allusion. It’s likely just written to sound badass and introduce the theme of Time—one that devours its inhabitants like a cannibalistic god.

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