• Ganymede Feeding the Eagle

    Dimensions:
    length: 58 cm; height: 44 cm

Ganymede Feeding the Eagle

Ancient Rome, late 1st century BC

The beautiful youth Ganymede was the son of King Tros, the founder of Troy,, and the nymph Callirrhoe. His maternal grandfather was the river god Scamander, who, according to Homer in the Iliad, tried to drown Achilles for filling the water with the bodies of Trojans that he had killed. The Iliad also mentions Ganymede. The young man was famed for his good looks. One possible translation of his name (Γανυμήδης) is “delight the soul”. This remarkable human caught the eye of Zeus, who turned himself into an eagle (or sent down an eagle) to carry him away to live on Mount Olympus, investing him with eternal youth and immortality. From that time on, he served nectar and ambrosia to the gods and was a companion of Zeus. The image of Ganymede is an embodiment of flawless beauty unconnected with sport, hunting or warfare. He is a calm, thoughtful youth, depicted as a rule with an eagle – the main attribute that aids in his identification. The Humanists of the Renaissance era transformed his myth into a Neo-Platonic or even Christian allegorical of the human soul’s striving after God. Reliefs like this one from Roman times also inspired Baroque and Classical artists, while the subject of a fierce bird being fed represented humility and an acknowledgement of the rights of absolute rule. The Roman sculptor, too, may have been seeking to convey a similar message, alongside the decorative and mythological aspects. The relief was made at the end of the 1st century BC, most probably in the reign of Emperor Augustus.

Title:

Ganymede Feeding the Eagle

Place:

Dimensions:

length: 58 cm; height: 44 cm

Acquisition date:

Entered the Hermitage in 1851; purchased from Riketti and Rotta in Venice

Inventory Number:

ГР-3098

Category:

Collection:

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