Chronos was the primeval god of time, a divinity who emerged self-formed at the beginning of creation in the Orphic cosmogonies. Khronos was imagined as an incorporeal god, serpentine in form, with three heads--that 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 and Ananke continued to circle the cosmos after creation-their passage driving the circling of heaven and the eternal passage of time.
The figure of Chronos was essentially a cosmological doubling of the Titan Kronos (also "Father Time"). The Orphics occasionally combined Chronos with their creator-god Phanes, and identified him with Ophion. His equivalent in the Phoenician cosmogony was probably Olam (Eternal Time), or Oulomos, as his name appears in Greek transcriptions.
Khronos was represented in Greco-Roman mosaic as Aion, "eternity" personified. He stands against the sky holding a wheel inscribed with the signs of the zodiac. Beneath his feet Gaia (Mother Earth) is usually seen reclining. The poet Nonnus describes Aion as an old man with long white hair and beard. Mosaics, however, present a youthful figure.
"Time does not efface what noble men leave behind, and their prowess shines forth even when they are dead." (Euripides, Andromache 775).
"To recount the lives of men of the past is a task which presents difficulties to writers and yet is of no little advantage to society as a whole. For such an account which clearly portrays in all frankness their evil as well as their noble deeds renders honour to the good and abases the wicked by means of the censures as well as the praises which appropriately come to each group respectively. And the praise constitutes, one may say, a reward of virtue which entails no cost, and the censure is a punishment of depravity which entails no physical chastisement. And it is an excellent thing for later generations to bear in mind, that whatever is the manner of life a man chooses to live while on this earth, such is the remembrance which he will be thought worthy of after his death; this principle should be followed, in order that later generations may not set their hearts upon the erection of memorials in stone which are limited to a single spot and subject to quick decay, but upon reason and the virtues in general which range everywhere upon the lips of Fame. Time, which withers all else, preserves for these virtues an immortality, and the further it may itself advance in age, the fresher the youth it imparts to them." (Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History 10.2.1ff.).
"Pythagoras, when he was asked what time was, answered that it was the soul of the heavens. For time is not an attribute or accident of any chance motion but cause and potency and principle of that which holds together all the things that come to be ..." (Plutarch, Moralia: Platonic Questions 1007b).
Time rules perception
Chronos is Time, a god who has never been underrated. For all-consuming Time, who for the human mind increases endlessly, cannot in any way be separated from the orderly experience of life, which is not conceivable without him. Therein lies the power of this god, who rules, not only the appearance of things—making them look newer or older—but also the Soul, who would not be capable of apprehending anything without his gifts. That is why it has been said:
"Ever-ageing Time teaches all things." (Prometheus 1 to Hermes. Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound 982).
Time plants in the human mind the basic sequence of Past, Present and Future, without which there would neither be "before" nor "after", nor anything depending on these, such as "causes" and "effects". Without them, all things would be perceived at once, and the human mind would fall into confusion. The greatness of Time is such that nothing can be done about him, except to take him for granted just in the way he pleases to appear. For if he shortened the length of the day, no one would notice anything, since there is no way of checking Time by means of comparison. Similarly, if he reversed his course, the whole physical world would be altered, since causes and effects are dependent on Time's direction; and then Death would come before birth, and Old Age would precede youth and childhood
The first to exist
The immensity of the power of Time is such that there have been those—as Orpheus (if the Argonautica were his)—who have asserted that Time was the first to exist. For they could not imagine any beginnings without him, apparently reasoning that whatever happens must happen according to Time, and that nothing could ever take place as an event, without the acquiescence of this god, "father of days" (Euripides, Suppliants 786). But Time cannot be found in the physical world, except for the effects of his actions. Effects are perceived always in the segment of Time called "Present", but causes could be either in the past or in the future.
The Fourth Dimension
By reason of this god's greatness, he was once nicknamed "The Fourth Dimension", a pseudomythical expression that attempts to make Time more visible. By associating him to the three space dimensions of length, breadth and thickness (which cannot even be enumerated without the assistance of the fourth), he is expected to appear more tangible, although space itself could be thought to be as elusive as Time. In this simple context, it has been rightly remarked that it is helpful for those wishing to meet, say at Times Square in New York, to think in four coordinates, if the meeting is ever to take place.
Orpheus and the Big Bang
Those who in the 20C AD described the so called "Big Bang" appear to think, almost like Orpheus, that Time was the first to exist, since they seem to associate this pseudomythical-idea-with-the-onomatopoeic-denomination to the birth of Time. But whereas Orpheus says that Time was the first to exist, those narrating the story of the "Big Bang" think rather that something took place, or was, just before the appearance of Time. For the universe, they appear to reason, counts a priori with a singularity, or is itself one, and it is not before this singularity expands that Time comes into being. Furthermore, this event may be thought to have taken place "Nowhere", since not only Time but the other three coordinates needed for every event to occur, are absent. Accordingly, the universe-singularity is described as "infinitesimally small and infinetely dense", a curious condition recalling the idea of "Nothing".