Zeus’s MDT – Day 4: Favourite Myths

Xαίρετε ἀναγνώστες!

Today I will share with you my favourite myth of mine that involves Zeus.

My favourite Zeus myth is the myth of Ganymedes, who was a son of Tros, a Trojan King. Basically, as the prince was shepherding some animals, Zeus saw him from atop Mt. Olympos and fell in love with Him. Zeus thereupon either shifted His shape into an eagle or sent one of His eagles and flew over to snatch Ganymedes away. I personally prefer variants of the myth where it is Zeus himself who changes His shape to an eagle’s and fetches the young, Trojan prince.

Anyways, Zeus snatches away Ganymedes, takes him to Olympos, seduces him and makes love to him — obviously to Hera’s dismay when She finds out. To keep Ganymedes from harm at his wife’s hands, Zeus makes him immortal as the Gods and makes him cupbearer to the Gods. Hera, however, retains her daughter Hebe as cupbearer. Zeus also placed the constellation of Aquarius in the sky as a representation of Ganymedes. Since Hera couldn’t harm Ganymedes himself, She instead would exact Her anger on Troy, and it partly fueled Her siding with the Akhaians (Hellenes) in the Trojan War).

Zeus, Ganymedes and Hestia, Athenian red-figure kylix ca. 6th B.C.E., National Archaeological Museum of Tarquinia. Image taken from Theoi.com, 4 October 2017.

Meanwhile, Tros was grieving greatly for the loss of his son, so when Zeus saw this he sent Hermes over with a gift: a pair of immortal, divine horses from Zeus’s own herd. Zeus instructed Hermes to tell Tros that his son was now dwelling amongst the Gods, blessed and immortal, beloved of Zeus, and that Zeus, to make up for Tros’s grief gifted him this pair of immortal, divine horses from his own herd. Hearing this, King Tros rejoiced and accepted the gift of the horses.

Zeus holding Ganymedes, pulling him in for an embrace. Notice the cockerel on Ganymedes’s left hand. Also, notice Zeus’s thunderbolt and sceptre on the ground. The scene appears a bit awkward looking in composition because of the medium. Athenian red-figure kylix, ca. 5th B.C.E., National Archaeological Museum of Ferrara. Image taken from theoi.com, 4 October 2017.

Ganymedes can be seen as a God of Homosexual Love and is indeed often shown amongst erotes such as Eros and Hymenaios. He is also often depicted with a hoop and a cockerel. The cockerel was, at least in Athens, a typical gift from older lovers (erastes) to their younger beloved (eromenoi) in pederastic relationships, and it was indeed a gift from Zeus to Ganymedes.

Finally, I want to share this YouTube video retelling the myth of Zeus and Ganymedes:

I am not all that fond of the parts mentioning Hera, but then I suppose it is in line with ancient mythography. In any case, this is all for today.


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