Renaissance panel ceiling by Baldassare Peruzzi entitled "The Rape of Ganymede." ( c. 1509-14). Villa Farnesina, Rome, Italy.
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Image courtesy of PhotoDisc, Inc. All rights reserved. Images provided by (c) 1995 Fototeca Storica Nazionale.
Ganymede was a son of Tros, first king of the classical land known as Troy.
He tended sheep there on the slopes of Mount
Ida. One day Jupiter caught a glimpse of the young boy and was overwhelmed with a desire to bring Ganymede to Olympus to serve
as the cup bearer of the gods. Jupiter
thereby changed his shape into that of an
eagle, swooped down and carried the boy off to the home of the gods.
Now it so happens that this position was already filled by
Hebe,the daughter of Jupiter and his wife Juno.
Once Ganymede arrived at the royal court a competition began between Hebe and Ganymede for the honor of serving the gods. Eventually Ganymede won the post, and stayed on
also as the favored companion to Jupiter.
To honor the events surrounding the elevation of Ganymede to "cup bearer and servant of the gods," Jupiter placed the 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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