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Zeus and Ganymede - archaic Greek version

Zeus, the cloud-gathering father god, came down from shining Olympus and begat Dardanus, who floated across the sea to the Hellespont on a raft made of hides. There he begat Erichthonius, the first who dared harness four horses to a chariot. He gathered a herd of three thousand mares, becoming the richest of mortal men.
Zeus Abducting Ganymede, ca. 470 BC, Polychromed terracotta acroterion from the Temple of Zeus at Olympia; Olympia Museum
Erichthonius, in turn, sired Tros to be king over the people. Tros took Callirrhoe to wife, daughter of sinuous Scamander, river that waters the Trojan plain. In time, illustrious sons were born to him: Ilus, builder of the famed city at the feet of Mount Ida, and godlike Ganymede, the most handsome born of the race of men.

Fearing for the golden-haired boy's safety, Tros set stalwart guardians to watch over his son. Ganymede played carefree with his friends, wrestling in the sun and running in the wind, or chasing deer through the glades of Mount Ida, for he was a hunter without peer.

 Looking down from the heavens, the eye of wise Zeus lighted upon the prince. Awestruck by the boy's beauty and eager to possess him, the god unleashed a fierce thunderstorm, plunging the land into darkness. Ganymede's friends and guardians scattered, racing for shelter. At that instant the god swept down unseen out of the clouds, gathered Ganymede up in his arms and carried him away. Grief that could not be soothed filled Tros' heart, for he knew not where the heaven-sent whirlwind had taken his dear son.
Zeus Abducting Ganymede, ca. 470 BC, Polychromed terracotta acroterion from the Temple of Zeus at Olympia; Olympia Museum

Zeus brought Ganymede to his crystal halls in Olympus. He made the radiant youth deathless and appointed him cupbearer to the gods. It was his duty, come feast time, to mull the red nectar in its great golden bowl, draw it into a golden pitcher and fill each god's cup to the brim. The Olympians all honored the young Trojan, for his beauty filled them with pure joy.

On earth, Tros pined for his son and mourned him constantly. At last, Zeus took pity on the man. He hurried down Hermes, the divine messenger, with rich gifts in payment for abducting Ganymede: an ever-fruiting golden vine, and two high-stepping white mares. They were the finest that live and prance under the dawn and the sun, the same that carry the immortals. Heeding Zeus' command, Hermes revealed to Tros that his son was like a god now, deathless and forever young. After receiving Zeus' tidings, Tros never cried again. His heart was filled with joy and he happily drove his storm-footed horses as fast as the wind.

To reward Ganymede, Zeus set him among the stars as Aquarius, the water bearer. He stands there in the heavens, smiling still, bathed in soft light, as the echo of his fame reverberates down the centuries.

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CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following form of citation:
Andrew Calimach, World History of Male Love, "Gay History", Zeus and Ganymede - archaic Greek version, 2000 <>


Anonymous, Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite 202ff.
Apollodorus, Library and Epitome iii.12.2
Euripides, The Trojan Women 820-840
Homer, Illiad 5.265ff.
Homer, Illiad 20.215-235
Hyginus, Poetica Astronomica II.29 Aquarius
Virgil, Georgics iii.

2003 Andrew Calimach


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