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Ganymedes (detail). 6734: Abduction of Ganymedes (detail), c. 470 BC.

Ganymedes, a handsome young man of beauty only comparable to that of Endymion, Hyacinthus 1, Narcissus, Adonis, Hermaphroditus, Hylas or Chrysippus 2, was abducted for the sake of his beauty, and taken to heaven to be the gods' cupbearer.

Conveyed to heaven

For the sake of his beauty Zeus caught the golden-haired Ganymedes up on an eagle, and ever since he is the cupbearer of the gods in heaven, being honoured by the OLYMPIANS as he draws the red Nectar from the bowl.

Missed by his father

Some say that Ganymedes was caught not by an eagle but by a heaven-sent whirlwind. But the grief of his father Tros 1 (after whom the Trojans are called) was so substantial that Zeus gave him some remarkable horses as recompense for his son. And Zeus also sent Hermes to tell Tros 1, by way of consolation, that Ganymedes would now be deathless and unageing, as are the gods.

The Mares of Laomedon 1

The fine mares that Zeus gave to Tros 1 or to King Laomedon 1 of Troy caused the first sack of the city. For Laomedon 1's daughter Hesione 2 was exposed as a prey to be devoured by a sea-monster, and Heracles 1 promised to save her on condition of receiving the famous mares from Laomedon 1. When the king agreed, Heracles 1 killed the monster and saved the girl. But Laomedon 1 refused to give the stipulated reward, and Heracles 1, with only six ships and a little army, sacked the city of Troy about one generation before the great Trojan War.

Constellation and Fabrication

According to some the constellation Aquarius (Water Bearer) is Ganymedes, who is seen as pouring water from an urn, whereas the eagle that caught him is now the constellation Aquila (Eagle). But others tell quite different tales concerning these CONSTELLATIONS. And in the view of the Athenian (in Plato's Laws), the myth of Ganymedes was a Cretan fabrication:

"And whether one makes the observation in earnest or in jest, one certainly should not fail to observe that when male unites with female for procreation the pleasure experienced is held to be due to nature, but contrary to nature when male mates with male or female with female, and that those first guilty of such enormities were impelled by their slavery to pleasure. And we all accuse the Cretans of concocting the story about 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. Now with the story itself we have no more concern; but when men are investigating the subject of laws their investigation deals almost entirely with pleasures and pains, whether in States or in individuals. These are the two fountains which gush out by nature's impulse; and whoever draws from them a due supply at the due place and time is blessed — be it a State or an individual or any kind of creature; but whosoever does so without understanding and out of due season will fare contrariwise." (Plato, Laws 636c–e).

Ganymedes and Zeus. 3316: Ganymedes and Zeus. Wall decoration in Hamburger Kunsthalle.

Ganymedes abducted by the eagle. 0627: Painting from ca. 1580, following Michelangelo Buonarroti. Künsthistorische Museum, Wien.


Parentage (two versions)

Tros 1 & Callirhoe 3

Assaracus & Hieromneme

Tros 1 called the people of his land Trojans, after his own name.
Callirrhoe 3 is a daughter of the river god Scamander 1.
Assaracus was king of the Dardanians, people living near Mount Ida in the Troad.
Hieromneme is a Naiad, daughter of Simois, one of the RIVER GODS.


Genealogical Charts

Names in this table: Aeneas, Anchises 1, Assaracus, Astyoche 3, Atlas, Batia 1, Callirrhoe 3, Capys 1, Cleopatra 3, Dardanus 1, Electra 3, Erichthonius 1, Ganymedes, Hector 1, Idaea 1, Ilus 2, Laomedon 1, Pleione, Priam 1, Scamander 1, Simois, Teucer 2, Tros 1, Zeus.

Related sections  

Apd.3.12.2; Col.19; Dio.4.75.1-3; Eur.IA.1051; Hom.Aph.5.202; Hom.Il.5.265, 20.232; Hyg.Ast.2.29; Hyg.Fab.224; Nonn.8.94, 25.449; Vir.Aen.1.28, 5.252.