The Sacrifice of Kronos, No. 2 depicts the theme of ancient ritual that is characteristic of Stamos's work of the 1940s, when he and his contemporaries were endeavoring to "create the myth of their own time" through their art.
The Sacrifice of Kronos, No. 2 portrays the drama and terror of the story of the Titan, Cronus, (Kronos, in the Greek spelling preferred by Stamos), who devoured his children in fear of the prophesy that one of his offspring would usurp his power. When Cronus's son Zeus was born, his mother, Rhea, wrapped a stone in clothing, and Cronus swallowed it, believing it was their son. The prophecy took its course, because Zeus eventually overthrew Cronus.
In the painting, the moment of the sacrifice is depicted. Two ghost-like eyes appear in the stone, alluding to Cronus's misguided belief that it was his son he had swallowed. Cronus, with gaping mouth and staring eye, appears to be crushed under the weight of the massive boulder. Thin, black lines illustrating natural and cosmic forces meander and streak throughout the composition. Such lines of energy reflect not only an awareness of surrealist motifs, but also the influence of Dove's lines of force in his late works.
The gripping scene of Cronus devouring the rock occurs on a terracotta-colored field against a background of unnatural, intense blue highlighted with fluorescent greens. The garish, almost hallucinatory colors emphasize the supernatural qualities of the subject. The theme of this ancient myth may well have been a metaphor for the dark and frightening events that were revealed after World War II, as well as the ensuing struggles for dominance among the powerful nations.