author unknown — translated by Chris "Childe Harold" Oakley
The morning twilight ere the dawn
Spread cool light upon the lawn;
An azure glow, in which rode up high
A silver couch where Aphrodite did lie.
Her heart burned hot; her beam was bright —
A morn of yearning after lovesick night;
She beheld with pain and exquisite thrill
The form of the boy asleep on the hill.
Then the shadows dissolved and a shaft of gold
From Helius’ fire that o’er Asia rolled
Illumined such beauty as scarce a mortal might see
But they be filled with longing for an eternity —
’Twas Ganymedes, earth’s most beautiful boy:
Fairseeming indeed was this son of Troy!
He rose forthwith and did greet the morn
With a voluptuous tune from his silver horn,
And nymphs of the forest gathered around
Intoxicated at once by the delicious sound.
High and far the notes did fly,
E’en to the cloudy heights of the Olympian sky
Where the Gods stood in thought, awaiting the day
In pensive mood, their thoughts far away.
‘Ganymedes!’ whispered Zeus, ‘What a tasty piece!
There’s no-one as gorgeous as that in Greece! ’
Yet he frowned, and seemed to check his train:
‘But he’s a guy, though, which is rather a pain.
I wonder. I wonder,’ and he thought a while more,
‘This indisputable fact is rather a bore!’
At last he said: ‘But I’m a God, and, what’s more — their king!
Surely I should be allowed to do anything!
Yes, no-one can stop me having a bit
With this pretty little youngster, this apple-cheeked chit! ’
Thus he spake and vanished in a flash
And lightning-quick ’cross the Aegean did dash;
And scarce had Ganymedes ceased his silver clepe
When he beheld before him a golden sheep!
At once was he nibbled by the god-sheep’s maw;
He was quite turned on by the touch of its jaw;
He thrilled with delight at these ovine solicitations
And soon was astride, with fevered gyrations.
Zeus returned, much later, to his mountainous lair,
His cloak all crumpled, his tunic past repair,
To a furious wife, quite livid with rage
Who was dancing with anger that no words could assuage
‘A boy!’ she shrieked with utter indignation,
‘Are no depths too low for your divine adulteration?
Is no pleasure too sordid, no lust too base,
For the king of the gods not to up and give chase?
Should the faithful love of the truest wife,
Whose heart is cut by the cruellest knife,
Be trod in the mud and regarded so small,
That now she should watch a mortal her husband ball?
’Though you think this no more than a sensual game,
I’ll warrant that in time Greece will get a bad name! ’
But Zeus was unmoved by this fev’rish speech,
And quoth, ‘Thou art slow to learn what I fain would teach:
That the laws that bind mortals do not apply to me;
To break the bounds, to learn to be free —
This is my job, ’tis my destiny:
Today love between men — ’twill catch on, you’ll see!’
Quoth she, ‘Of this obscene prattle I’ve heard quite enough!’
And left Olympus in a divine sort of huff.
Already a brutal revenge did she plan
On this Zeus-fancied and libidinous young man.
Down below, and far to the east
The late-bonked Ganymedes, after his sensuous feast,
Wended his slow way back to Troy —
With childish delight — an innocent-seeming boy.
He saw a shrine, which, as he drew nearer,
He recognised as a temple to Hera.
Now Ganymedes was pious, and so in a trice
He had ’ssembled fruit and flowers as a special sacrifice.
He knelt at the steps to the goddess to give praise
When the statue came to life before his gaze!
‘Hullo Big Boy!’ the statue did say,
And Ganymedes was too frightened to speak or to run away.
‘You’re a naughty boy,’ it continued, ‘and a delicious lout;
Take me inside and romp my brains out! ’
Explicit details here are not required,
So let’s just say he performed as desired,
And then, standing up after he had knocked her,
She said, quite plain, ‘Now go see a doctor!’
She laughed aloud, and deadly as a knife,
And gone with a flash was Zeus’ vengeful wife!
He then became worried ’bout what might have transpired,
And sought out the best quack that could be hired,
Who said, ‘A fog of unknowing my diagnosis shades,
Though in future your palsy will be known as A.I.D.S.’
Thus slowly and cruelly did fair Ganymedes die,
In the battles of the Gods, just a fall guy.
So this tale has a moral, and all men should take note
Who would not untimely sit in Charon’s boat:
Howe’er willing she be, don’t necessarily bonk her —
(Or him), for you must be careful where you put your plonker.
Yet I do not wish to end on such a tragic note,
For the Muses who, unseen, above me float
Would ne’er have it that such a poignant tale
Should end with such beauty condemn’d to Hades’ vale:
For as Ganymedes lay dying a beautiful throng
Of deities struck up a mournful song;
Their voices pierced the hearts of all who heard,
And were carried to Olympus, as on wings of a bird,
And Zeus became wroth at what Hera had done
Simply on account of his little bit of fun,
And summoned Ganymedes, on Olympus to dwell;
A serene-browed immortal, and cup-bearer as well —
To laugh and pour mead, and frolic with the powers,
A world away from mortals where every joy sours.
And in good time, Zeus set him in the stars
As the godlike lad who bears the vase;
And on a summer’s eve the skies he does grace —
A wreath in his hair, and a smirk on his face!