Ganymede (mythology)

The Abduction of Ganymede (ca. 1650), by Eustache Le Sueur

In Greek mythology, Ganymede or Ganymedes (d/;[1] d/;[2] Greek: Γανυμήδης, Ganymēdēs) is a divine hero whose homeland was Troy. He was the son of Tros of Dardania, from whose name "Troy" was supposedly derived, and of Callirrhoe, the daughter of the river god Scamander. Ganymede was the brother of Ilus, Assaracus and Cleopatra. Homer describes Ganymede as the most beautiful of mortals, and in one version of the myth Zeus falls in love with his beauty and abducts him in the form of an eagle to serve as cup-bearer in Olympus.

[Ganymedes] was the loveliest born of the race of mortals, and therefore
the gods caught him away to themselves, to be Zeus' wine-pourer,
for the sake of his beauty, so he might be among the immortals.

— Homer, Iliad, Book XX, lines 233-235.[3]

The myth was a model for the Greek social custom of paiderastía, the socially acceptable romantic relationship between an adult male and an adolescent male. The Latin form of the name was Catamitus (and also "Ganymedes"), from which the English word "catamite" is derived.[4]


Ganymede was abducted by Zeus from Mount Ida, near Troy in Phrygia.[5] Ganymede had been tending sheep, a rustic or humble pursuit characteristic of a hero's boyhood before his privileged status is revealed. Zeus either summoned an eagle or turned into an eagle himself to transport the youth to Mount Olympus.

Roman-era relief depicting the eagle, Ganymede wearing his Phrygian cap, and a third figure, possibly his grieving father

In the Iliad, Zeus is said to have compensated Ganymede's father Tros by the gift of fine horses, "the same that carry the immortals",[6] delivered by the messenger god Hermes. Tros was consoled that his son was now immortal and would be the cupbearer for the gods, a position of much distinction. Walter Burkert found a precedent for the Ganymede myth on an Akkadian seal that depicts the hero-king Etana riding heavenwards on an eagle.[7]

In Olympus, Zeus granted him eternal youth and immortality and the office of cupbearer to the gods, supplanting Hebe. Edmund Veckenstedt associated Ganymede with the genesis of the intoxicating drink mead, which had a traditional origin in Phrygia.[8] All the gods were filled with joy to see the youth, except for Hera, Zeus's consort, who regarded Ganymede as a rival for her husband's affection. Zeus later put Ganymede in the sky as the constellation Aquarius, which is associated with that of the Eagle (Aquila). A moon of Jupiter, the planet named for Zeus's Roman counterpart, was named Ganymede by the German astronomer Simon Marius.[9]

Ganymede pouring Zeus a libation (Attic red-figure calyx krater by the Eucharides Painter, c. 490–480 BCE)

Plato accounts for the pederastic aspect of the myth by attributing its origin to Crete, where the social custom of paiderastía was supposed to have originated (see "Cretan pederasty").[10] Xenophon portrays Socrates as denying that Ganymede was the catamite of Zeus, and instead asserting that the god loved him for his psychē, "mind" or "soul," giving the etymology of his name as ganu-, "taking pleasure," and mēd-, "mind." Xenophon's Socrates points out that Zeus did not grant any of his lovers immortality, but that he did grant immortality to Ganymede.[11]

In poetry, Ganymede became a symbol for the beautiful young male who attracted homosexual desire and love. He is not always portrayed as acquiescent: in the Argonautica of Apollonius of Rhodes, Ganymede is furious at the god Eros for having cheated him at the game of chance played with knucklebones, and Aphrodite scolds her son for "cheating a beginner." The Augustan poet Virgil portrays the abduction with pathos: the boy's aged tutors try in vain to draw him back to Earth, and his hounds bay uselessly at the sky.[12] The loyal hounds left calling after their abducted master is a frequent motif in visual depictions, and is referenced also by Statius:

Here the Phrygian hunter is borne aloft on tawny wings, Gargara’s range sinks downwards as he rises, and Troy grows dim beneath him; sadly stand his comrades; vainly the hounds weary their throats with barking, pursue his shadow or bay at the clouds."[13]

Other Languages
Alemannisch: Ganymedes
العربية: غانيمادس
башҡортса: Ганимед
беларуская: Ганімед
Boarisch: Ganymed
brezhoneg: Ganymedes
čeština: Ganymédés
eesti: Ganymedes
فارسی: گانومده
français: Ganymède
한국어: 가니메데스
հայերեն: Գանիմեդես
Bahasa Indonesia: Ganimede
íslenska: Ganymedes
עברית: גנימדס
Latina: Ganymedes
Lëtzebuergesch: Ganymed (Mythologie)
lietuvių: Ganimedas
la .lojban.: .ganymidis.
Malagasy: Ganymède
മലയാളം: ഗാനിമിഡെ
мокшень: Ганимед
português: Ganímedes
русский: Ганимед
Simple English: Ganymede (mythology)
slovenčina: Ganymédes
slovenščina: Ganimed
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Ganimed (mitologija)
svenska: Ganymedes
українська: Ганімед