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Statue of Ganymede used as garden ornament in Vaux-le-Vicomte, France.
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Image courtesy of Corel Corporation.

Ganymede

Ganymede was a son of Tros, first king of the classical land known as Troy. He lived on the island of Crete, and tended sheep there on the slopes of Mount Ida. One day Zeus caught a glimpse of the handsome young boy as he was tending sheep on Mt. Ida, and was suddenly inflamed with a passion for him.

Zeus thereby changed his shape into that of an eagle, swooped down onto the craggy slopes of Ida, and carried the boy off to Mt. Olympus, home of the gods, to serve as the cup bearer. Now it so happens that this position was already filled by Hebe, the daughter of Zeus and his wife Juno. Once Ganymede arrived at the royal court there began a furious competition between Hebe and Ganymede for the honor of serving the gods.

Eventually Ganymede won the post, and stayed on also as the beloved companion to Zeus. Ganymede's father, Tros, mourned for his son because he did not know what happened. Zeus felt sorry for him, and gave the father special horses that only gods could ride upon. He also made Hermes explain the entire story, including the honor of becoming immortal.

To honor the events surrounding the elevation of Ganymede to "cup bearer and servant of the gods," he placed his shape of an eagle, a shape he assumed when abducting Ganymede to Olympus, into the heavens as the constellation Aquila (eagle), and immortalized Ganymede as the constellation Aquarius (water bearer). One of Jupiter's moons is also named after Ganymede.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA