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GANYMEDE

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V11, Page 454 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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GANYMEDE, in Greek mythology, son of Tros, king of Dardania, and Callirrhoe. He was the most beautiful of mortals, and was carried off by the gods (in the later story by Zeus himself, or by Zeus in the form of an eagle) to Olympus to serve as cup-bearer (Apollodorus iii. 12; Virgil, Aeneid, v. 254; Ovid, Metam. x. 255). By way of compensation, Zeus presented his father with a team of immortal horses (or a golden vine). Ganymede was afterwards regarded as the genius of the fountains of the Nile, the life-giving and fertilizing river, and identified by astronomers with the Aquarius of the zodiac. Thus the divinity that distributed drink to the gods in heaven became the genius who presided over the due supply of water on earth. When pederasty became common in Greece, an attempt was made to justify it and invest it with dignity by referring to the rape of the beautiful boy by Zeus; in Crete, where the love of boys was reduced to a system, Minos, the primitive ruler and law-giver, was said to have been the ravisher of Ganymede. Thus the name which once denoted the good genius who bestowed the precious gift of water upon man was adopted to this use in vulgar Latin under the form Catamitus. Ganymede being carried off by the eagle was the subject of a bronze group by the Athenian sculptor Leochares, imitated in a marble statuette in the Vatican. E. Veckenstedt (Ganymedes, Libau, 1881) endeavours to prove that Ganymede is the genius of intoxicating drink (┬ÁdOv, mead, for which he postulates a form th os), whose original home was Phrygia. See article by P. Weizsacker in Roscher's Lexikon der Mythologie. In the article GREEK ART, fig. 53 (PI. I.) gives an illustration of Ganymede borne aloft by an eagle.
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