The tale of Ganymede can be quite puzzling to say the least, as the true nature of Zeus’ relationship with the youth is never clearly defined. Though later versions of the story take on a more erotic flavor, earlier accounts state that the attraction was based solely on the lad’s divine elegance and charm.
Ganymede was the son of Tros, an early king of Troy and the naiad Callirrhoe. One day as the youth was tending his sheep on Mount Ida, he inadvertently attracted the attention of Zeus. The god was so enamored by the young man’s beauty that he changed himself into an eagle and whisked the boy away to Mount Olympus.
Zeus then presented Ganymede with the gifts of immortality and eternal youth before appointing him to be his personal cupbearer.
According to some accounts Ganymede replaced Hebe as the god’s official cupbearer after she was given in marriage to the hero Heracles. It is said that Ganymede was well loved amongst all of the Olympians except for one, Zeus’ wife Hera.
The goddess saw the young man as nothing more than just another rival for her husband’s affection. Zeus eventually placed Ganymede among the stars where he can still be found today gracing the evening sky as the constellation Aquarius.