The Rape of Ganymede
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The most handsome mortal boy in all of Greece, Ganymede achieved divine status as cup bearer and servant of the gods. As the lover and companion to Zeus, he was eventually gifted with the legacy of being immortalized amongst the stars. The Greek word ganumai translates to gladdening and medon has two meanings. The first is prince and another translation is genitals. The derivation of the name Ganymede seems to have an intended double meaning.
Zeus was so enchanted with his appearance he transformed himself into an eagle, picked up Ganymede and brought him up to Mount Olympus , the home of the gods in the heavens. Upon hearing that King Tros was devastated about the disappearance of his son, Zeus summoned the god Hermes and told him to deliver two special horses to Tros as compensation. It is said the horses were so fast, they could run over water. Later, Heracles would ask for these same horses as payment for killing the sea monster that attacked the city of Troy.
Hermes also promised that Ganymede would become divine and act as cup bearer of Zeus and the gods. Ganymedes was frequently represented in works of art as a beautiful youth with the Phrygian cap.
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He appears either as the companion of Zeus Paus. The Romans called Ganymnedes by a corrupt form of his name Catamitus. Ganymedes was an appellation sometimes given to handsome slaves who officiated as cupbearers. Homer, Iliad Lattimore Greek epic C8th B. Homeric Hymn 5 to Aphrodite ff trans. Evelyn-White Greek epic C7th - 4th B. Pindar, Olympian Ode 1. Conway Greek lyric C5th B. Pindar, Olympian Ode Ibycus, Fragment from Scholiast on Apollonius of Rhodes trans. Campbell, Vol. Theognis, Fragment 1.
Gerber, Vol. Greek Elegiac Greek elegy C6th B.
The Rape of Ganymede | | The Walters Art Museum
Euripides, Iphigenia at Aulis ff trans. Vellacott Greek tragedy C5th B. Plato, Laws c trans. Bury Greek philosopher C4th B. And we all accuse the Kretans Cretans of concocting the story about Ganymedes Ganymede. Because it was the belief that they derived their laws from Zeus, they added on this story about Zeus in order that they might be following his example in enjoying this pleasure as well. Plato, Phaedrus trans.
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Fowler : "The fountain of that stream [homosexual desire], which Zeus when he was in love with Ganymede named Himeros Desire. Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3. Aldrich Greek mythographer C2nd A. Because of his beauty, Zeus kidnapped Ganymedes by means of an eagle, and set him as cupbearer in the sky. Callimachus, Epigrams 53 from A.
Mair Greek poet C3rd B. Strabo, Geography Jones Greek geographer C1st B. Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4. Oldfather Greek historian C1st B. Ganymedes, who excelled all men in beauty, was snatched up by the gods to serve as the cupbearer of Zeus. Pausanias, Description of Greece 5. Jones Greek travelogue C2nd A. Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae trans. Grant Roman mythographer C2nd A. Ganymede, son of Erichthonius, whom Jove [Zeus] loved. Pseudo-Hyginus, Astronomica 2. This is the eagle which is said to have snatched Ganymede up and given him to his lover, Jove [Zeus].
And so it seems to fly above Aquarius, who, as many imagine is Ganymede. Ovid, Metamorphoses Melville Roman epic C1st B. The King of Heaven Rex Superum once was fired with love of Ganymedes Phrygius the Phrygian , and something was devised that Juppiter [Zeus] would rather be than what he was.
Yet no bird would he deign to be but one that had the power to bear his thunderbolts. At once his spurious pinions beat the breeze and off he swept Iliades [Ganymedes of Ilion]; who now, mixing the nectar, waits in heaven above, though Juno [Hera] frowns, and hands the cup to Jove. Ovid, Heroides Showerman Roman poetry C1st B. A Phrygian, and born of our blood, was he [Ganymedes] who now is with the gods, and mingles water with the nectar for their drinking.
Virgil, Aeneid 5. Day-Lewis Roman epic C1st B. Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 2. Mozley Roman epic C1st A. Statius, Thebaid 1. Statius, Silvae 3. Mozley Roman poetry C1st A. The painting was originally shaped as an irregular octagon, but canvas was added in the early eighteenth century to make it up to a rectangle.
At that time, Prussian blue was painted over the discoloured grey smalt pigment in the sky.
The Abductions Of Ganymede, In Order Of Abduction-y-ness
A huge black eagle soars into the clouds with a naked youth clutched in its talons. The painting illustrates the rape of Ganymede. In Greek mythology, the beautiful shepherd boy Ganymede was carried away by Jupiter in the form of an eagle to the home of the gods on Mount Olympus and made their cupbearer. Although it has been assumed that the picture reflects the sexual orientation of its patron, this is unlikely. Titian may have recommended the Paduan Mazza, who is described in seventeenth-century sources as his pupil. The painting was originally shaped as an irregular octagon, but canvas was added in the early eighteenth century to make it into a rectangle.
Prussian blue, a pigment that first came into use in the eighteenth century, has been painted on top of it. This would have greatly enhanced the drama of the composition.