Google supplies us with lots of images of Father Time. In most cases, he is carrying a scythe.
Have you ever thought about this? You should have, but you probably haven’t.
Who was Father Time? He was not the grim reaper. His scythe was not for reaping.
He was Chronos. Chronos was the ancient Greek god of time. His name is the basis of the word “chronology.” Wikipedia says:
Chronos was imagined as a god, serpentine in form, with three heads–those of a man, a bull, and a lion. He and his consort, serpentine Ananke (Inevitability), circled the primal world egg in their coils and split it apart to form the ordered universe of earth, sea, and sky. Chronos was confused with, or perhaps consciously identified with, due to the similarity in name, the Titan Cronus already in antiquity, the identification becoming more widespread during the Renaissance, giving rise to the allegory of “Father Time” wielding the harvesting scythe.
The titan Cronus was Zeus’s father. His father was Uranus (Sky).
What has this got to do with a scythe? A lot. We also read on Wikipedia:
In ancient myth recorded by Hesiod’s Theogony, Cronus envied the power of his father, the ruler of the universe, Uranus. Uranus drew the enmity of Cronus’ mother, Gaia, when he hid the gigantic youngest children of Gaia, the hundred-handed Hecatonchires and one-eyed Cyclopes, in the Tartarus, so that they would not see the light. Gaia created a great stone sickle and gathered together Cronus and his brothers to persuade them to castrate Uranus.Only Cronus was willing to do the deed, so Gaia gave him the sickle and placed him in ambush. When Uranus met with Gaia, Cronus attacked him with the sickle castrating him and casting his testicles into the sea. From the blood that spilled out from Uranus and fell upon the earth, the Gigantes, Erinyes, and Meliae were produced. The testicles produced a white foam from which the goddess Aphrodite emerged. For this, Uranus threatened vengeance and called his sons Titenes (according to Hesiod meaning “straining ones,” the source of the word “titan”, but this etymology is disputed) for overstepping their boundaries and daring to commit such an act.
Every time I see Father Time and his scythe, I think of the old saying: “A tool for every purpose, and every tool in its place.”