Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Ganymede, the cutest young man on Earth (1) sculptures

Ganymede was known to be the most handsome young man on Earth. Several stories circulate about Ganymede myth, they usually converge on the fact he was very handsome, like a Young God, and Zeus felt in love with him the day he saw him playing on the fields of Troy and Mount Ida.

Sculpture from Ernst Seger, Germany - Hearst Estate - San Simeon - California.
Picture from Saint Plan

Sculpture by Thorvaldsen -Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Thorvaldsen sculpture - Copenhagen
Reportedly Zeus transformed himself into an eagle, and grabbed the boy. The two arrived fast to Mount Olympus. ''The eagle folded his wings, shook himself once and turned back into a god. He took Ganymede to bed and then appointed him cup bearer.''

Sculpture from Benvenuto Cellini - Florence - Italy
Sculpture by Adamo Tadolini 1788 -1868 in Hermitage Museum - St Petersburg.
Photo by Ayir Heklai.
Same - detail
Sculpture by Pierre Julien 1731-1804 Louvre Museum - Paris.
Picture by K. Ignatidis

Ganymede's father, Tros, cried endless tears after the loss of his son, not knowing what happened. Zeus was moved by his pain, and sent down Hermes as messenger, who let Tros know his boy was now among the gods, immortal and forever young. Zeus gave Tros in exchange for his son two beautiful and strong white horses able to walk on water, the very same that carry the immortals. Tros’ heart was filled with joy and he drove his new horses as fast as the wind.

''Zeus, grateful for Ganymede’s love, made a place for him among the stars as Aquarius – the Water Bearer. There he still stands, smiling, pouring nectar and shielded to this day by the wing of the Eagle constellation.''

Burkli Platz - Zurich - Switzerland. Hermann Hubacher
Ganymede's sculptures

Several sculptures were made to glorify or illustrate the love between Zeus and Ganymede, or Ganymede's rapt, by famous sculptors like Michelangelo or Cellini. 

Benvenuto Cellini - Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence - Italy.
Benvenuto Cellini - Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence - Italy
Hermitage Museum - St Petersburg

In Italy, some sculptures can be seen at the Vatican museum, at the Uffizzi in Florence, and at the archeological museum of Naples. Other sculptures are in various Europe's museums, like St Petersburg Hermitage, or Copenhagen, or Louvre in Paris.

At the Archeological Museum of Naples
Found in the remains of a villa Via Prenestina - Rome - Italy 
Other art media

Ganymede is also represented on other media by famous ancient artists (Le Titien, Rembrandt, Michelangelo, Rubens) as well as contemporary (Pierre & Gilles and others) and this will be the subject of another post. In litterature, the myth is mentioned by Virgile, Plato, Ovide, and more recently by Goethe, Cavafy. 

An extensive collection of Ganymede's portraits, drawings, engravings, and sculptures can be seen here.