In Greek mythology, Ganymede (Roman equivalent: Catamitus) was a beautiful human boy who became the cupbearer of the gods.

Ganymede was a Trojan prince kidnapped by Zeus from Mt. Ida while tending to a flock of sheep or gathering with his friends and tutors. Zeus saw him and fell in love with him instantly, either sending an eagle or turning himself into an eagle and taking Ganymede to Mt. Olympus. Ovid mentions that the aged tutors reached out to grab him back, and his dogs barked at the sky, images thought to represent the attitude of the masses towards same-sex love even in Roman times. In Olympus, Zeus made Ganymede his lover and cupbearer. All the gods were filled with joy to see the young man, but Hera, Zeus' wife despised Ganymede and her hate of him later spilled over into a hate of all the Trojans, and led to her destruction of Troy at the time of the Trojan war.

An alternative version says that Eos, the dawn-goddess and nymphomaniac, kidnapped Ganymede and also Tithonus to be her lovers. Zeus decided he wanted the beautiful youth Ganymede for himself but to repay Eos he promised to fulfill one wish. She asked for Tithonus to be immortal, but forgot to ask for eternal youth. Tithonus indeed lived forever but grew more and more ancient, eventually turning into a cricket.

In either version, Ganymede's father grieved for his son. His father was either Tros or Laomedon. Sympathetic, Zeus sent Hermes to Tros with two horses so swift they could run over water. Hermes also assured Ganymede's father that he was immortal and would be the cupbearer for the gods, a position of much distinction. The theme of the father recurs in many of the Greek coming-of-age myths of male love, suggesting that the relationships symbolized by these stories took place under the supervision of the father.

Zeus later put Ganymede in the sky as the constellation Aquarius, which is still associated with that of the Eagle (Aquila).

In poetry, Ganymede was a symbol for the ideally beautiful youth and also for homosexual love, sometimes contrasted with Helen of Troy in the role of heterosexuality.

Alternative: Ganymedes

External Link

The Androphile Project Greek Mythology section, featuring the myth of Zeus and Ganymede.