The Myth of Zeus and Ganymedes

I’m sure everyone has heard of the myth of Ganymedes who according to specific circles is abducted and allegedly raped by the God Zeus.

Lets see how the texts present it:

Pausanias, Description of Greece 5.24.5

ὡς δὲ αὔτως Διὸς καὶ Γανυμήδους ἀγάλματα: ἔστι δὲ Ὁμήρῳ πεποιημένα ὡς ἁρπασθείη τε ὑπὸ θεῶν Γανυμήδης οἰνοχοεῖν Διὶ καὶ ὡς Τρωὶ δῶρα ἵπποι δοθεῖεν ἀντ᾽ αὐτοῦ.

and likewise images of Zeus and Ganymedes. Homer’s poem tells how Ganymedes was carried off by the gods to be wine-bearer to Zeus, and how horses were given to Tros in exchange for him

Homer, Iliad Il. 5.265

τῆς γάρ τοι γενεῆς ἧς Τρωΐ περ εὐρύοπα Ζεὺς
δῶχ᾽ υἷος ποινὴν Γανυμήδεος, οὕνεκ᾽ ἄριστοι
ἵππων ὅσσοι ἔασιν ὑπ᾽ ἠῶ τ᾽ ἠέλιόν τε,

For they are of that stock wherefrom Zeus, whose voice is borne afar, gave to Tros recompense for his son Ganymedes, for that they were the best of all horses that are beneath the dawn and the sun.

P. Ovidius Naso, Metamorphoses 11.755

raptusque Iovi Ganymedes

Ganymede taken by Jupiter

P. Ovidius Naso, Metamorphoses 10.155-60

Rex superum Phrygii quondam Ganymedis amore

arsit, et inventum est aliquid, quod Iuppiter esse,
quam quod erat, mallet. Nulla tamen alite verti
dignatur, nisi quae posset sua fulmina ferre.
Nec mora, percusso mendacibus aere pennis
abripit Iliaden; qui nunc quoque pocula miscet
invitaque Iovi nectar Iunone ministrat.

The king of all the Gods once burned with love
for Ganymede of Phrygia. He found
a shape more pleasing even than his own.
Jove would not take the form of any bird,
except the eagle’s, able to sustain
the weight of his own thunderbolts. Without
delay, Jove on fictitious eagle wings,
stole and flew off with that loved Trojan boy:
who even to this day, against the will
of Juno, mingles nectar in the cups
of his protector, mighty Jupiter.

Note that the word ‘amore’ according to the ‘Charlton T. Lewis, Charles Short, A Latin Dictionary’ means:

love (to friends, parents, etc.; and also in a low sense; hence in gen., like amo, while caritas, like diligere, is esteem, regard, etc.; hence amor is used also of brutes, but caritas only of men; v amo init.)”

Ovid Fasti 6.148

rapto Ganymede dolebam

I grieved at Ganymede’s abduction

Vergilius Maro, Aeneid 1.32

et rapti Ganymedis honores.

grace bestow’d on ravish’d Ganymed

The only reference of anything that would imply sexual relations from what I’ve been able to find comes from Atheneus, who while originally mentions that the Cretans believe that it was Minos that “άρπασαι” (carried off) Ganymedes and that the Chalcidians claim that it was Zeus that “αρπάσθηναι” (carried off) Ganymedes from their own lands… He then informs that Sophocles in his lost text titled “Colchian women” claims that Zeus was set “aflame by his thighs”..

One can’t but notice that although the texts make no reference to rape and while we have only one early Christian account of something that would imply a form of sexual relations even if that implies intercrural sex and that coming from a lost text. The so called authorities of ancient Hellenic sexuality have chosen to circulate the rape myth even though there is nothing to support it, not only that but they intentionally overlook the text of Xenophon which gives us a totally different insight on the issue.

Xenophon Symposium 8.30


[30] καὶ ἐγὼ δέ φημι καὶ Γανυμήδην οὐ σώματος ἀλλὰ ψυχῆς ἕνεκα ὑπὸ Διὸς εἰς Ὄλυμπον ἀνενεχθῆναι. μαρτυρεῖ δὲ καὶ τοὔνομα αὐτοῦ: ἔστι μὲν γὰρ δήπου καὶ Ὁμήρῳ“γάνυται δέ τ᾽ ἀκούων.
”Hom.τοῦτο δὲ φράζει ὅτι ἥδεται δέ τ᾽ ἀκούων. ἔστι δὲ καὶ ἄλλοθί που“πυκινὰ φρεσὶ μήδεα εἰδώς.
”Hom.τοῦτο δ᾽ αὖ λέγει σοφὰ φρεσὶ βουλεύματα εἰδώς. ἐξ οὖν συναμφοτέρων τούτων οὐχ ἡδυσώματος ὀνομασθεὶς ὁ Γανυμήδης ἀλλ᾽ ἡδυγνώμων ἐν θεοῖς τετίμηται.

And I aver that even in the case of Ganymede, it was not his person but his spiritual character that influenced Zeus to carry him up to Olympus.
This is confirmed by his very name.
Homer, you remember, has the words,“He joys to hear;”

Perhaps Homeric Poems that is to say, ‘he rejoices to hear;’
and in another place,‘harbouring shrewd devices in his heart.’

This, again, means ‘harbouring wise counsels in his heart.’ So the name given Gany-mede, compounded of the two foregoing elements, signifies not physically but mentally attractive; hence his honour among the gods.


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